Scientific Meeting » NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) Awards Ceremony


Location: Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference – Washington, D.C.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) initiative was created to support the research programs and career development of outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who plan to make a long-term commitment to research most relevant to NIMH. These awards seek to assist these individuals in launching an innovative clinical, translational, or basic research program that holds the potential to profoundly transform the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of mental disorders.

This ceremony honored the 2016 and 2017 NIMH BRAINS R01 grantees. The ceremony began with introductory and welcome remarks by NIMH Director, Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. who emphasized the purpose of the BRAINS program and our charge as an institute to support innovative new scientists that are focused on the recovery, prevention, and cure of mental illnesses. Each BRAINS awardee gave a short presentation on their research project to NIMH leadership, program staff, and previous BRAINS awardees. Research projects covered a wide range of topics from in utero connectomics, to neuro-plasticity based interventions, to in vivo imaging of human induced pluripotent stem cell derived neurons, to optimizing intervention delivery for those with autism spectrum disorder, and brain-behavior synchrony in young children and their mothers.

This annual event celebrates these remarkable young scientists and it gives NIMH staff the opportunity to meet with promising young investigators and hear more about their research program and long-term career goals. It also gives these new investigators a chance to learn about their fellow awardees’ projects, discuss potential collaborations and meet with NIMH program staff. The fundamental purpose of Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists is to support the research and careers of the future generation of exceptionally talented and creative new scientists who will transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses and enable NIMH to fulfill its vision of a world in which mental illnesses are prevented and cured. The BRAINS RFA was reissued for 2018 with a focus on the research priorities and gap areas identified in the NIMH Strategic Plan.

2016 and 2017 Awardees

  • Steve Chang, Ph.D., Yale University (2016 Awardee) Toward A Macaque Model of Social Brain Dysfunction in Real-Life Social Interactions
  • Paul E. Croarkin, D.O., M.S., Mayo Clinic (2017 Awardee) Glutamatergic and GABAergic Biomarkers in rTMS for Adolescent Depression
  • Erin C. Dunn, Sc.D., Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital (2017 Awardee) Childhood adversity, DNA methylation, and risk for depression: A longitudinal study of sensitive periods in development
  • Susan Faja, Ph.D., Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2017 Awardee) Charting the trajectory of executive control in autism in order to optimize delivery of intervention
  • Fabio Ferrarelli, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh (2017 Awardee) Characterize differences in sleep spindles between Clinical High Risk and healthy controls longitudinally
  • Michael Fox, M.D., Ph.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (2017 Awardee) Using human brain connectivity to identify the causal neuroanatomical substrate of depression symptoms (Not able to attend)
  • Rakesh Karmacharya, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2017 Awardee) Ex vivo signature of psychosis and treatment response in patient-derived neurons
  • Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy, Ph.D., Northwestern University (2017 Awardee) Interrogating and sculpting synapses and circuits for rapidly acting antidepressant effects
  • Matthew Daniel Lerner, Ph.D., Stony Brook University (2016 Awardee) Optimizing Prediction of Social Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Pamela Belmonte Mahon, Ph.D., Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2016 Awardee) Oxidative Stress and Bipolar Disorder Trajectories
  • Judith K. Morgan, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh (2017 Awardee) Brain-Behavior Synchrony in Very Young Children and their Depressed Mothers
  • Brian J. O’Roak, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University (2017 Awardee) Characterizing patient-specific TBR1 mutations: Understanding a master regulator of autism risk
  • Krishnan Padmanabhan, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center (2017 Awardee) In vivo imaging of transplanted human induced-Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) derived neurons to model neurological and psychiatric disorders
  • Rebecca Price, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh (2017 Awardee) Testing a Synergistic, Neuroplasticity-Based Intervention for Depressive Neurocognition
  • Peter H. Rudebeck, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (2016 Awardee) A new approach to the role of prefrontal-limbic circuits in anxiety disorders
  • Ueli Rutishauser, Ph.D., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and California Institute of Technology (2016 Awardee) Single-neuron mechanisms of executive control of long-term memory processes in humans
  • Moriah E. Thomason, Ph.D., Wayne State University and NICHD (2016 Awardee) In utero Assessment of the Human Neural Connectome and Later Child Behavior

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