Center for Brain Research in Mood Disorders (C-BRiMD) core faculty members are senior clinician-scientists at Washington University School of Medicine whose research and clinical efforts drive the missions of C-BRiMD to understand the mechanisms underlying bipolar, depressive and anxiety disorders in an effort to develop novel and more effective treatments for these devastating illnesses.
Core faculty members provide expertise in mood disorders across the spectrum from basic neuroscience investigation to clinical trials as well as spanning the age range from early childhood to the geriatric population.
Charles Conway, MD
Dr. Conway, Professor of Psychiatry, directs the Center for the Advancement of Research in Resistant Mood and Affective Disorders (CARRMA) at Washington University. He has expertise in neuroimaging and in the use of neuromodulation (brain stimulation) methods to treat refractory mood disorders. These neuromodulation methods include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS). These latter methods are among the most invasive treatments used in psychiatry but are among the most effective for treating patients with refractory mood disorders.
Dr. Conway established the Washington University Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) and Neurostimulation Clinic in 2008. The Clinic’s purpose is to study the diagnosis and mechanisms of TRD and its treatments. In recent efforts, Dr. Conway and colleagues conducted the first ever trial of the anesthetic, nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), for TRMD. Early work indicates that nitrous oxide has rapid antidepressant effects within a few hours after administration, in contrast to the several week lag for currently available antidepressant treatments.
Joan Luby, MD
Dr. Luby is the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Early Emotional Development Program (EEDP) at Washington University. EEDP is a clinical research program that focuses on identification and treatment of the earliest developmental manifestations of mood disorders. In work to date, EEDP has established validated criteria for identifying depression in children as young as age 3, and has investigated how the experience of early childhood depression changes the trajectory of brain development across middle childhood and early adolescence.
Studies have shown alterations in brain function similar to those in depressed adults in depressed preschool children. This work has led to the development of an early parent child psychotherapy designed for the treatment of preschool depression. This treatment focuses on depression as a disorder of emotional development, and like early intervention in other developmental disorders, aims to alter the emotion developmental trajectory during a period of rapid brain growth and neuroplasticity. Building on these principles, this group is conducting a large scale controlled trial of an early psychotherapeutic intervention for preschool depression called “Parent Child Interaction Therapy- Emotion Development (PCIT-ED). This treatment is based on the principle that early experience and nurturing parent child relationships have powerful impacts on developmental and brain changes during early childhood sensitive periods.
Eric Lenze, MD
Dr. Lenze, Professor of Psychiatry, directs the Healthy Mind Lab at Washington University. This lab focuses on the prevention and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in adults with emphasis on older adults. His research examines treatments to help older adults with depression, anxiety disorders, and cognitive decline. These treatments have ranged from new antidepressants to mindfulness training and exercise. Dr. Lenze also has a major interest in identifying new treatments for refractory major depression and bipolar disorder, and his group has recently completed a clinical trial using prolonged infusions of the anesthetic drug, ketamine, as a treatment for refractory depression. This is one of the major evolving areas in psychiatry.
In addition to specific projects, the Healthy Mind Lab also has a focus on improving the process of research. In particular they are developing new mobile technology to make clinical trials more meaningful and more efficient, efforts that will greatly speed the transition of new treatments from research to clinical care. In other projects, Dr. Lenze also mentors young scientists in the Healthy Mind Lab with interests ranging from childhood obesity to perinatal mental health.
Daniel Mamah, MD
Dr. Mamah, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, directs the Washington Early Recognition Center (WERC). This lab was formed with the goal of preventing at-risk adolescents and young adults (aged 13-30 years) from developing mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These disorders cause significant suffering for both affected youth and their families, and are major causes of disability worldwide. Research at WERC aims to identify individuals at risk, while monitoring brain and behavior changes over time, and developing effective interventions against illness progression. Further, research at WERC hopes to achieve further innovations in psychiatry and brain neuroimaging methods. Dr. Mamah and colleagues are evaluating the possibility of using brain structural and functional connectivity neuroimaging to refine the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
In collaboration with Washington University faculty in the Departments of Radiology and Physics, he is also working to develop newer imaging acquisition methods for measuring brain tissue abnormalities. Dr. Mamah is also actively engaged in important cross-cultural studies of mood and psychotic disorders, spearheading projects in Kenya and Rwanda as well as his ongoing work in St. Louis.
Charles Zorumski, MD
Dr. Zorumski is the Samuel B. Guze Professor and Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Professor of Neuroscience at Washington University. Dr. Zorumski is also Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Director of the Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research. Dr. Zorumski’s laboratory studies synaptic transmission in the hippocampus.
His studies focus on short- and long-term modulation of the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems, with emphasis on how these transmitter systems participate in memory and neuropsychiatric disorders. A long-standing interest concerns the mechanisms by which neurosteroids and oxysterols modulate GABA and glutamate receptors. Clinically, Dr. Zorumski is interested in the treatment of refractory mood disorders. Dr. Zorumski was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 and has served on the Academy’s Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders.