NIMH » NIMH’s Dr. Andrea Beckel-Mitchener Named Deputy Director of NIH BRAIN Initiative

NIH has announced the selection of Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as deputy director of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative is a large-scale effort that seeks to deepen understanding of the inner workings of the human mind and to improve how we treat, prevent, and cure disorders of the brain.

Since 2017, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has served as director of the Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity and the Office of Rural Mental Health Research at NIMH. In this role, she has worked to reduce disparities and promote mental health equity within the United States and internationally. She has also led efforts to promote diverse perspectives in research and support inclusivity in the research workforce.

In addition, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has been serving as acting deputy director of the BRAIN Initiative alongside Dr. John Ngai, who was named BRAIN Initiative director in January 2020. She has worked with NIH staff and scientists around the world, helping coordinate research opportunities to develop new technologies for examining cell and circuit function in the brain. She is involved in supporting a framework for the ethical use of technologies emerging from the BRAIN Initiative, and she has led several large projects including the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network.

Dr. Beckel-Mitchener began her NIH career in 2004 as director of the Functional Neurogenomics Program in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science at NIMH. Before joining NIMH, she worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and for GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline-Beecham) in Worthing, U.K. She received both a master’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

The goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to develop novel neurotechnologies that will further our understanding of the brain, and to share those technologies with others. The scientific impact of the BRAIN Initiative will be accelerated through the rapid dissemination of technologies and resources to the neuroscience research community and beyond.

Since its initial funding in 2014, the BRAIN Initiative has supported more than 900 research awards totaling approximately $1.8 billion through 2020, with a budget of $560 million in 2021.

NIH recently announced the funding of more than 175 grants through the BRAIN Initiative that represent a variety of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, and psychology.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative® is managed by 10 institutes whose missions and research portfolios complement the goals of the BRAIN Initiative: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Eye Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The Initiative is co-led by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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NIMH » NIMH’s Carlos Zarate Jr., M.D., Elected to National Academy of Medicine

At its annual meeting for 2020, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced the election of 90 regular members, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s Carlos Zarate Jr., M.D. One of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, election to the Academy recognizes outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Dr. Zarate is chief of the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch within the NIMH Intramural Research Program, where his research focuses on developing novel medications for treatment-resistant depression and bipolar disorder. Dr. Zarate’s research helped determine that a single infusion of ketamine can rapidly reduce depressive symptoms in people with treatment-resistant depression or bipolar depression. The identification of ketamine as a rapid-acting intervention for depression has provided hope for the many people for whom traditional depression treatments are not effective.

Dr. Zarate received his M.D. degree from the Catholic University of Cordoba in 1985. He went on to complete a Fellowship in Clinical Psychopharmacology at McLean Hospital from 1992-1993, after which he remained as a staff member until 1998. At the McLean Hospital Consolidated Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Zarate served as the director of the Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Outpatient Services, chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee, and director of the New and Experimental Clinic. From 1998 to 2000, Dr. Zarate served as the chief of the Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Program, associate professor of psychiatry, and chair of the Grand Rounds Committee at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In January 2001, he joined the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the NIMH as chief of the Mood Disorders Research Unit. In 2009, Dr. Zarate formed the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch at NIMH.

Dr. Zarate is the recipient of multiple previous awards, including the Outstanding Psychiatrist Research Award from the Massachusetts Psychiatric Association; the Brain Behavior Research Foundation Award for Bipolar Mood Disorder Research; and numerous awards from both NIMH and the National Institutes of Health for mentorship, supervision, and for his outstanding scientific contributions.

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