Only 15 investigators were selected nationally to receive the grants, out of 225 applicants. Annual selections were made by members of the Foundation's Scientific Council, a volunteer group of 138 leaders in brain and behavior research.
"It is worthy of special recognition when leaders in the field from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council review 225 grant applicants, narrow them to just 15 who will receive $100,000 grants and find that 20 percent of the finalists are from Emory," says Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, acting president and CEO, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
"We have watched mental health research evolve over the course of our Foundation's 25 years of awarding grants to more than 3,300 researchers at over 425 institutions around the world, including 72 grants to Emory totaling over $5.2 million. The cutting-edge mental health research coming out of Emory obviously captured the attention of our Selection Committee as being very promising work toward a goal we share with Emory - alleviating suffering from mental illness."
The funded Emory investigators and studies are:
Gary Bassell, PhD, professor of cell biology, will explore dysfunction in synapses (sites of information transmission from brain cell to brain cell) in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. The research will focus on a signaling pathway important in synapse development and plasticity and thus learning and memory.
Barbara O. Rothbaum, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is striving to identify the optimal timing for early intervention aimed at preventing the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Scientific Council memberKerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, one of the world's leading experts in the study of PTSD and the biological mechanisms of fear, will collaborate.
Stephen Traynelis, PhD, professor of pharmacology, will explore a potential schizophrenia treatment approach based on altering the function of the neuroregulator glutamine in a chain of events that involves glutamine receptor N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA).
"We are very proud of this outstanding achievement by our investigators, says David S. Stephens, MD, vice president for research in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "This concentration of three research grants at Emory demonstrates our commitment to mental health research and treatment of brain disorders."
Last December, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation highlighted a research discovery by Andrew Miller, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in Emory School of Medicine, in its list of 10 major research achievements of 2012. Miller and Emory colleagues demonstrated an antidepressant response by treating inflammation. Patient responsiveness to the treatment can be predicted with a simple blood test.
"I am excited by the continued support of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation of ground breaking work by neuroscientists at Emory. Receipt of these highly sought after investigator awards is a testimony to Emory's strength in neuroscience research," says Mark Rapaport, MD, Reunette W. Harris Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Emory University School of Medicine.
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.
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