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Media Contact: Kathi Baker 19 November 2007    
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Emory Neuroscientist Helen Mayberg Receives Falcone Prize
Helen S. Mayberg, MD, professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, was recently awarded the Falcone Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research.

The Falcone Prize is one of five prestigious awards presented to scientists of great achievement by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). NARSAD is the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research.

Dr. Mayberg's studies over the past 20 years in neural network models of mood regulation in health and disease have led to the recent development of a new intervention for treatment resistant patients using deep brain stimulation, a study initiated at the University of Toronto and now continuing at Emory.

"Dr. Helen Mayberg made seminal contributions to understanding the pathophysiology and prediction of pharmacological treatment response in unipolar and bipolar affective disorders using brain imaging with PET," explains Robert M. Post, MD, chair of NARSAD'S Falcone Prize Selection Committee. "She then utilized this information to find a key area of the anterior cingulate cortex that she hypothesized would regulate depressed mood, and proceeded to stimulate this region electrically using deep brain stimulation.

"A number of the most treatment-resistant patients who received this treatment have shown remarkable antidepressant responses," continues Dr. Post, "and this work has opened a whole new approach to treatment of severely ill patients."

Dr. Mayberg is a Board Certified Neurologist, trained at Columbia's Neurological Institute in New York, with fellowship training in nuclear medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She received a BA in Psychobiology from UCLA and her medical degree from University of Southern California. She has held previous academic appointments in Neurology, Psychiatry and Radiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio and the University of Toronto, where she was also the first Sandra Rotman Chair in Neuropsychiatry.

"Dr. Mayberg has repeatedly made pioneering discoveries on the neurobiology of depression that have transformed the way we think about the pathophysiology of mood disorders," says Charles B. Nemeroff, MD, PhD, professor and Reunette W. Harris Chair of Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "Her research has formed the basis of an extremely new approach to treatment of this devastating disorder."

Dr. Mayberg is currently a member of the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Advisory Council, the American Neurological Association Council and the Scientific Advisory Board for NARSAD. She has served on the Clinical Neuroscience and Biological Psychopathology, and the Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Study Sections at NIH.

She is active in the Society for Neuroscience, The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Her research program has ongoing funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Canadian Institute for Health Research, NARSAD, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, the Dana Foundation and the Woodruff Fund.

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