The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Names 10 Recent Discoveries Funded by its NARSAD Grants That Will Help Understand, Treat and Cure Mental Illnesses

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The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation names 10 recent discoveries funded by its NARSAD Grants.

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Names 10 Recent Discoveries Funded by its NARSAD Grants That Will Help Understand, Treat and Cure Mental Illnesses

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has named 10 recent discoveries, funded by its NARSAD Grants, that provide new insight into the mysteries of the brain and potential treatments for people with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD and panic disorder.

“We are entering the golden age of brain research,” says Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, which funds cutting-edge research for the understanding, early detection, treatment, prevention and cure of mental illness. Through its NARSAD Grants, it has awarded over $300 million to more than 3,700 scientists around the world since 1987.

“These 10 recent discoveries highlight the kind of scientific work that will help us understand, treat and cure the mental illnesses that affect one in four people,” he says. “Because federal funding for research is steadily declining, private funding is required to drive the kind of high risk, high reward research that changes lives.”

  •     Steady Stream of New Neurons in the Brain May Keep Depression at Bay:

NARSAD Grantee Kirsty Spalding, Ph.D., and a team at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm quantified for the first time the number of new neurons generated in adult brains, finding that approximately 1,400 new neurons are added each day during adulthood.

  •     New Biological Depression Trigger and Treatment Target:

Leading a team of researchers at Yale, NARSAD Grantee Marina Picciotto, Ph.D. has linked acetylcholine, a signaling chemical or neurotransmitter, with depression, opening the possibility to treat a root cause of the illness rather than only its symptoms.

  •     Unlocking Mystery of how Antidepressants Work Offers Hope for Improved Depression Treatment:

NARSAD Grantee Hongjun Song, Ph.D., and researchers at the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine discovered a specific protein that helps electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and antidepressant medications work.

  •     New Technology Enables Discovery of Novel Way to Reduce Anxiety Symptom:

NARSAD Grantee Rene Hen, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center led a group of researchers who may have found a way to reduce anxiety in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder without negatively affecting the ability to learn.

  •     3D Imaging Technology Promises Breakthroughs in Brain Research:

NARSAD Grantee Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., led a team at Stanford in developing CLARITY, a new imaging technology that provides high-resolution, 3D images of the brain that offer new insights into brain structure and function, and could shed light on the underlying causes of psychiatric disorders.

  •     Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia:

NARSAD Grantee Scott A. Schobel, M.D., of Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry discovered that elevated levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the hippocampus region of the brain may cause the transition to psychosis in people at high risk for developing schizophrenia.

  •     Behavioral Therapy Program Helps People with Mental Illness Lose Weight:

NARSAD Grantee Gail L. Daumit, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University, led Project Achieve, the first weight loss clinical trial with people with serious mental illnesses. She found that people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression can lose weight and keep it off through a modified lifestyle intervention program.

  •     Potential Breakthrough for Schizophrenia:

Working with mice that were genetically engineered to have very low N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity in the brain, NARSAD Grantee Joseph T. Coyle, M.D., and his team of researchers at Harvard Medical School were able to reverse schizophrenia-like symptoms by giving the mice D-serine, one of two molecules required to activate NMDA receptors.

  •     Brain Scans May Guide Choice of Antidepressants vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Depression:

NARSAD Grantee Helen S. Mayberg, M.D., and colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University identified specific activity in the right anterior insula of the brain that can potentially predict whether people with major depressive disorder (MDD) will better respond to an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy

  •     MRI Brain Scans May Help Diagnose Depression in Preschoolers:

NARSAD Grantees Joan L. Luby M.D., and Deanna M. Barch, Ph.D., at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that preschoolers with depression showed more activity (blood flow) in the amygdala—the region of the brain that controls emotional processing and regulating—providing the earliest evidence yet of changes in brain function in young children with depression.

About NARSAD Grants from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Research projects funded by NARSAD Grants are selected by the Foundation’s Scientific Council comprised of 146 leading experts in brain and behavior research, including two Nobel Prize winners. The Foundation invests 100% of donor contributions for research directly into its NARSAD Grants. For more information, visit

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