“We have broken the sound barrier where it is clear now that we can develop treatments that work very rapidly within hours as opposed to having to sit for years and several decades, we only have to wait weeks or months.”
Carlos A. Zarate, M.D., a NARSAD Independent Investigator Grantee (2005), has pioneered revolutionary studies that have led to novel treatments for mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder that begin working much faster than previous options. Dr. Zarate is Chief of Experimental Therapeutics of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University. With a strong focus on the pathophysiology of severe mental illnesses, his goal is to develop better treatments particularly for patients living with depression, bipolar disorder and/or other mood disorders. His research into a drug called Ketamine has resulted in rapid-acting depression treatments that work within hours and last 3-5 days or more. Because of the speed at which this drug reacts within the body and the duration of its effects, it is possible that emergency room doctors may have a possible treatment for those suffering from depression and acute suicidality.
“For me it’s an exciting time to be a researcher. We didn’t have much of these technologies even a decade ago and now we have all these options and possibilities. And that will definitely, and it has, led to an increased understanding of what are the causes of the illness, maybe what are potentially promising targets to develop better treatments. These things we didn’t have in recent past.”
Dr. Zarate was recognized for this discovery and his career of work at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation National Awards Dinner in New York City in October, 2011 with the Bipolar Mood Disorder Outstanding Achievement Prize (renamed the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research in 2012).