Rising Star Awards

Identifying and funding critical and cutting edge brain disorders research

Given the challenges of understanding and finding therapies for psychiatric disorders, IMHRO’s Rising Star Awards aim to encourage the community of neuroscience researchers to direct their efforts toward basic, translational and clinical science while supporting the research of emerging leaders in the field.

In 2016, IMHRO, in collaboration with the organization AIM for Mental Health and the Sullivan Family Foundation, and with Janssen Research and Development, granted three major awards for research related to psychiatric illness.

Chosen by IMHRO's Scientific Advisory Board, each Rising Star recipient will receive up to $250,000 to fund research for their studies.


About the Awards

IMHRO / Janssen Rising Star Translational Research Award

Two grants were awarded for research toward novel therapies for psychiatric illness with the objective to advance the translation of scientific knowledge of underlying disease mechanisms in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression toward benefits to patients and the healthcare system. Specifically, the program supports translational research on innovative targets, with the potential to advance discovery of therapeutic approaches in the near term. The emphasis will be on the approaches that provide a viable path toward renormalizing or compensating for novel biological alterations or those that have already been discovered. This award is not specifically focused to advance the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of psychiatric diseases.


IMHRO / AIM Sullivan Family Foundation Rising Star Research Award

A third grant was awarded for clinical research in humans focused on non-drug related treatments specifically for anxiety or depression in children and adolescents with the potential to advance discovery of therapeutic approaches in the near term. Proposals included research projects focused on innovative strategies and technologies focused specifically on early interventions, treatments, and/or cures.


Announcing the 2016 Rising Star Awardees

2016 IMHRO Rising Star Awardees

The two winners of the 2016 IMHRO / Janssen Rising Star Translational Research Award are Mazen Kheirbek, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF, and Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Kheirbek proposes to innovatively map brain circuitry linking chronic stress to the development of major depression and anxiety disorders, and to test neuromodulation techniques to reverse stress’ debilitating effects. Dr. Lobo proposes to test the effects on neurobiology and behavior of a novel, potentially antidepressant compound targeted to remedy the structure and function of a class of brain cells fundamental to depression susceptibility.

The winner of the 2016 IMHRO / AIM Sullivan Family Foundation Rising Star Research Award is Kate Fitzgerald, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Michigan. Dr. Fitzgerald proposes to test the neurobiological and behavioral effects of an original psychosocial treatment aimed to strengthen effortful control, a cognitive skill that may help remedy clinical anxiety in preschoolers.


For more information on the Rising Star Research Awards, please contact us.

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