April 9, 2013 - Charles L. Raison, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine and Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been awarded a 2013 NARSAD Independent Investigator Grant of $100,000 by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to study, “A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Whole Body Hyperthermia as a Rapid Antidepressant Modality.”
Dr. Raison and his study team will conduct a rigorous, placebo-controlled study of mild whole body hyperthermia, building upon prior data from the research team suggesting that sensory pathways running from the brain to the body may be involved in the development of major depression and may hold promise as new ways of treating the disorder.
"What's really remarkable in the work done so far is the evidence that is beginning to accumulate suggesting that it might be possible to treat this hugely costly mental illness by interventions based in the body, not in the brain," according to Dr. Raison. "We also have some evidence to suggest that it might be more possible to predict who will and who will not respond to body-based treatments like hyperthermia than it has been to predict who will and will not benefit from standard antidepressants."
Ole J. Thienhaus, MD, MBA, Professor and Chair, Psychiatry, at the University of Arizona College of Medicine says, “I consider Dr. Raison to be one of our field's most innovative and important investigators in the area of brain-body approaches to the treatment of mood disorders.”
Collaborating researchers on the project include Patricia Haynes, PhD, from the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine; Matthias Mehl, PhD, John J.B. Allen, PhD, and Megan Robbins, PhD, from the Department of Psychology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Ashley Randall, PhD, Rebecca Reed, Clemens Janssen and Tommy Begay, PhD, from the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Dean Billheimer, PhD, BIO5 Institute; Christopher Lowry, PhD, from the Department of Integrative Physiology; University of Colorado Boulder, and Kay-u Hanusch, Aeskulap Clinic, Switzerland.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) announced approximately $4 million in new research grants in March 2013. From about 500 applicants, forty research scientists were selected to receive up to $100,000 over two years in NARSAD Independent Investigator Grants. These mid-career scientists from 10 countries and 34 institutions will pursue innovative research related to depression and other mental illnesses. NARSAD Grant selections are made by the Foundation’s all-volunteer Scientific Council, a group of 138 brain and behavior research leaders.
Scientific Council Member and Chair, Independent Investigator Grant Selection Committee, Robert M. Post, MD, of George Washington University said, “The range of project proposals this year was exceptional in its variety of new approaches to understand and treat mental illness. Tackling the illnesses of the brain remains science’s most daunting challenge and requires these cutting-edge approaches that the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has been supporting for 25 years with its NARSAD Grants. Each year we build upon the growing body of knowledge about the brain and its functioning and come closer to finding cures.”
“The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation salutes the impressive 2013 NARSAD Independent Investigator Grantees and extends gratitude to our donors and Scientific Council for their support,” says Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, Foundation President & CEO. “All of our grants are funded through private contributions by people passionate about and committed to improving the lives of those with mental illness. As researchers increasingly face funding challenges, Foundation support is more important than ever.”
Dr. Raison’s project is also supported in part by a pilot grant from the Depressive & Bipolar Disorder Alternative Treatment Foundation with in-kind support from the Braun Foundation to provide a Heckel HT3000 hyperthermia device for use in the study. To learn more about Dr. Raison's research program, click here.