2014 Research Round-Up, Wednesday 7 January 2015

With your help, our acclaimed Depression Task Force of neuroscientists has been working relentlessly to discover what is at the very core of depression.  The fact that they are collaborating and sharing information via the HDRF Data Center is one of the reasons they are achieving results with their HDRF-funded research grants.

Their research broke new ground in 2014, opening up pathways to find new and better anti-depressants in the year ahead.

2014 Research Highlights Include:

  • Discovery of a single protein in a key brain region that regulates our ability to be resilient to depression. (Read full article here)
     
  • Discovery that new neurons (“rookie neurons”) generated in the hippocampus may be the key to understanding post-traumatic stress disorder. (Read full article here)
     
  • Discovery that chronic stress leads to abnormally low levels of the receptor that regulates glutamate (a key neurotransmitter), which in turn may lead to depression. (Read full article here)
  • Further advances in our understanding of the specific genes that make us resilient to depression. 
  • Further understanding of how early childhood trauma can damage the normal function of the brain and increase chances of major clinical depression (MDD).
  • Use of the revolutionary tool of optogenetics to view circuits in the living brain and decipher the circuits that are disrupted in depression.
  • Further advances in the use of Deep Brain Stimulation to treat severe, resistant depression. 

Combined, in 2014 the seven neuroscientists of the Depression Task Force published their findings in over a dozen articles in major publications such as Scientific American, Nature, Science, Biological Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry.

The Depression Task Force: an outstanding collaboration of world-acclaimed neuroscientists.

Left to right:

Rene Hen, PhD                                 Columbia Unversity
Joshua Gordon, MD, PhD               Columbia University
Helen Mayberg, MD                        Emory University
Michael J. Meaney, PhD                 McGill University
Eric Nestler, MD, PhD                     Mount Sinai
Bruce S. McEwen, PhD                   Rockefeller University
Huda Akil, PhD                                University of Michigan

At a time when federal funds are shrinking and major drug companies are withdrawing from brain research, HDRF answers an urgent need for leadership in the field.

The brilliant findings of the Depression Task Force point to a new direction in the way we view, diagnose, and treat depression and related mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and postpartum depression.

We look forward to sharing critical new developments in the year ahead.  Together we can make breakthrough research possible in the last frontier of medicine – the mind and brain.

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