Mental Health Researchers Honored by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation for Advancing the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Psychiatric Illness

Klerman & Freedman Prizes Presented to Exceptional Young Scientists

New York, Aug. 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has announced the winners of its 2019 Klerman and Freedman Prizes recognizing exceptional clinical and basic research in mental illness. The prizes are awarded annually to honor the work of outstanding scientists who have been supported by the Foundation’s Young Investigator Grants Program. The grants program provides funding for research that impacts all brain and behavior disorders. 

The awards were presented at a ceremony in New York City on July 26, the evening before the annual meeting of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council. The group of 180 leading experts across disciplines in psychiatric research meets to discuss grant applications and recommend the most promising ideas to fund.

Dr. Herbert Pardes, President of the Scientific Council, presented the awards and noted, “The Klerman and Freedman prizes recognize innovative thinking and remarkable talent across the field of neuropsychiatry. Recognition for scientists early in their career helps them go on to receive further funding and is a precursor to further accomplishments.  We applaud these researchers for their brilliant work, and we thank our generous donors who understand that support of brain and behavior research will continue to produce better treatment, and ultimately, cures and prevention for mental illness.”

The Young Investigator Grant Program enables scientists who are early in their careers pursue innovative ideas in neurobiological and psychosocial research, gather pilot data and generate “proof of concept” for early detection, treatment, prevention and cures for mental illness.

Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, said, “Since our Foundation was established in 1987, we have awarded more than $394 million to more than 4,700 scientists in 35 countries, and we have seen significant progress that has changed the lives of people living with mental illness. The exceptional work of these BBRF Young Investigators keeps us moving forward toward a future in which all people living with mental illness will be able to lead full, productive and healthy lives.”

The Klerman and Freedman Prizes are named for Gerald Klerman, M.D., and Daniel Freedman, M.D., neuropsychiatry pioneers who played seminal roles as researchers, teachers, physicians and administrators.   

This year six scientists received recognition for their outstanding work in brain and behavior research. They are:

2019 Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research

Nolan R. Williams, M.D., Assistant Professor, Director Brain Stimulation Lab, Director, Interventional Psychiatry Clinical Research, Stanford University, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Stanford Bio-X

Themes of Dr. Williams work include examining the use of spaced learning theory in the application of neurostimulation techniques, development and mechanistic understanding of rapid-acting antidepressants, and identifying objective biomarkers that predict neuromodulation responses in treatment-resistant neuropsychiatric conditions.

2019 Freedman Prizewinner for Exceptional Basic Research

Anna Victoria Molofsky, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of California at San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry and Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The Molofsky lab studies synapses – the essential connections between the nerve cells in the brain. In particular, the lab investigates the role of the immune system in helping synapses to form properly. While the immune system plays many healthy roles in the brain, inflammation caused by infection and brain injury can also increase the risk for some mental illnesses, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and depression.

2019 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention

Bo Cao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Dr. Cao is developing translational tools for accurate and personalized diagnosis and treatment optimization for mental disorders (including major depression disorders bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and substance misuse). 

2019 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention

Sarah A. O. Gray, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University

Dr. Gray ‘s research examines the developmental consequences of early life adversity, with a specific focus on intergenerational processes.

2019 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention

Erin S. Calipari, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research

Dr. Calipari’s most recent work focuses on how sex differences in processes within the brain make women particularly vulnerable to substance use disorder.

2019 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention

Dorothy Schafer Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. Schafer’s lab investigates the role of microglia in regulating neural circuit structure and function. 

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

BBRF awards research grants to develop improved treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness. These illnesses include addiction, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $394 million to fund more than 4,700 leading scientists around the world, which has led to over $3.9 billion in additional funding. 100% of every dollar donated for research is invested in our research grants. The Foundation’s operating expenses are covered by separate foundation grants.


From left to right: Nolan R. Williams, M.D., Erin S. Calipari, Ph.D., Dorothy Schafer, Ph.D., and Herbert Pardes, M.D.

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