• Press Release

Two Leading Mount Sinai Brain Scientists Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Neuropsychopharmacology

  • New York, NY
  • (December 07, 2023)

Helen S. Mayberg, MD, Founding Director of the Nash Family Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics at Mount Sinai, and James Murrough, MD, PhD, Director of the Depression and Anxiety Center for Discovery and Treatment at Mount Sinai, were selected to receive 2023 Honorific Awards from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) for their outstanding contributions to the field. Neuropsychopharmacology is the study of the neural mechanisms by which drugs affect behavior. The awards were presented during the ACNP’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, December 3.

“The recognition of Drs. Mayberg and Murrough is well deserved for the exemplary contributions each has made to the field of neuropsychopharmacology,” said Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Director of The Friedman Brain Institute, and Dean for Academic Affairs of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. “Dr. Mayberg’s identification of a novel brain circuit implicated in depression helped to rethink the way we study underlying brain mechanisms, and her continued work to refine the development of the most effective treatments is paving the way for more targeted, precise, and effective treatment. Likewise, Dr. Murrough’s scientific acumen and efforts to uncover the pathogenesis of stress-related disorders like depression and anxiety and to understand therapeutic mechanisms of action have inspired potential treatment options for these devastating disorders which have never before been seen and which are desperately needed for patients who suffer from them.”

Dr. Mayberg was honored with the 2023 Barbara Fish Memorial Award in recognition of her outstanding research contributions to neuroscience. For more than 30 years, Dr. Mayberg, a neurologist with training in neuroimaging, has studied the human neural systems mediating mood and emotion. She established an international reputation for her pioneering research to map the brain circuits implicated in depression and for leading the first studies of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression, heralded as one of the first hypothesis-driven treatment strategies for a major mental illness. Early in her career, she developed one of the first “network” models for mood disorders, which incorporated the fundamentals of neuroanatomy and brain connections with imaging technologies to propose an alternative neurological view of this classical psychiatric condition that extended beyond the neurochemical models that had dominated for decades. The circuit approach has evolved over the years through collaborations with neuroscientists, clinicians, and engineers.

This approach continues to anchor many contemporary studies of mood disorders, including the identification of clinically meaningful biomarkers that can optimize treatment selection for individual depressed patients at all stages of illness and the development and latest refinements of deep brain stimulation, an experimental procedure for the most severe forms of treatment-resistant depression. Under Dr. Mayberg’s leadership, the Nash Family Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics is advancing precision surgical treatments for several neuropsychiatric conditions through the rapid conversion of neuroscience and neuroengineering innovations that correct brain circuit abnormalities to restore mood as well as motor and cognitive functioning.

Dr. Murrough was honored with the 2023 Joel Elkes Research Award in recognition of his outstanding clinical contribution to neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Murrough’s contributions to the field of psychiatric neuroscience are exceptional. He has put forth a large and sustained scientific and clinical impact in a strikingly brief period of time, making him one of the most accomplished clinical scientists in psychiatry of his generation. His program of research uses molecular, neuroimaging, and experimental therapeutics approaches aimed at elucidating the fundamental mechanisms underlying stress-related disorders in humans, including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. The overall goal of his research is to advance the treatments of stress-related disorders through an enhanced understanding of disease pathogenesis and therapeutic mechanisms of action.

His research efforts have helped advance knowledge concerning the clinical effects and mechanisms of action of ketamine in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Dr. Murrough led the first study of durability of antidepressant response following repeated doses of intravenous ketamine in TRD, the first study demonstrating the antidepressant potential of ketamine delivered via an intranasal route, and the first study of ketamine for suicidal thinking. He and his colleagues recently published an authoritative multi-site clinical trial demonstrating comparative efficacy of ketamine vs. electroconvulsive therapy for TRD.

Other major scientific contributions similarly exemplify Dr. Murrough’s clinical-translational neuroscience approach. His lab has tested, for the first time, potassium channel (KCNQ, also known as Kv7) modulators as novel therapeutics for mood disorders. The pharmaceutical industry has taken note of his work, inspiring a concurrent industry effort to test a novel KCNQ channel opener in patients with major depressive disorder, potentially putting a completely new pharmacological approach to the treatment of depression within reach in the near future. In addition to these extraordinary scientific accomplishments and reputation as a leading clinician-scientist, Dr. Murrough is a gifted teacher of neuropsychopharmacology and biological psychiatry to countless trainees and junior faculty.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

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