The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) has announced the winners of its 2021 Klerman and Freedman Prizes, which recognize 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 Klerman and Freedman prizes recognize innovative thinking and outstanding talent across the field of neuropsychiatry,” said Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “We applaud these researchers for their groundbreaking work, and we thank our generous donors for supporting scientists in brain and behavior research who are working to produce better treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness. The goal is to help more people live full, happy, and productive lives.”
The prizewinners are selected by the BBRF Scientific Council comprised of 180 pre-eminent mental health researchers.
“We have identified the most promising, high-quality science with the greatest potential for significant breakthroughs,” said Dr. Herbert Pardes, President of the BBRF Scientific Council. “This year’s prizewinners have previously received awards though the BBRF Young Investigator Grant Program, which supports early-career scientists as they gather pilot data and “proof of concept” for promising clinical and basic psychiatry research. Recognition for scientists early in their career helps them go on to receive further funding and is a precursor to further accomplishments.”
Since its founding in 1987, BBRF has awarded more than $418 million to more than 5,000 scientists around the world. The Klerman and Freedman Prizes are named for Dr. Gerald Klerman and Dr. Daniel Freedman, whose legacies as researchers, teachers, physicians, and administrators have indelibly influenced neuropsychiatry.
This year six scientists are receiving recognition for their outstanding work in brain and behavior research:
2021 Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research
Nicholas L. Balderston, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress
Dr. Balderston’s lab uses experimental design, psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and neuromodulation to explore the mechanisms that mediate the expression and regulation of anxiety. The ultimate aim of his research is to provide the foundation for novel neuromodulatory treatments for individuals suffering from severe anxiety.
2021 Freedman Prizewinner for Exceptional Basic Research
Meaghan Creed, PhD, Washington University Pain Center, Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Creed seeks to optimize neuromodulation therapies for disorders of reward processing, specifically for affective symptoms of chronic pain and substance use disorders. The objective is to leverage insight from optogenetic circuit-dissection studies to understand how basal ganglia circuit function is altered by the comorbid experience of chronic pain and addictive substances, and then to apply cell-type specific pharmacology and electrophysiology to design neuromodulation protocols to alter circuit function and normalize symptoms of impaired reward processing.