Four Yale researchers honored at the 2022 Association for Clinical and Translational Science Awards

The collaboration that advanced the discovery of ketamine as a treatment for depression was among four Yale Prize winners at the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) annual meeting held in Chicago from 20 to April 22.

Gerald Sanacora, MD, PhD, George D. and Esther S. Gross Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Yale Depression Research Program, accepted the ACTS Team Scientist Award, on behalf of an interdisciplinary team that he led, which contributed to the breakthrough in treating depression. This breakthrough represents the first new treatment for this widespread and debilitating disease in decades. “This award recognizes the work of a group of scientists and clinicians who, following the startling discovery of the rapid onset of ketamine’s antidepressant effects in the late 1990s, were able to move quickly to understand and develop this approach. transformative,” Sanacora said in a recording. acceptance speech.

“Dr. Sanacora has led an exceptional team to bring this paradigm shift in depression care to patients,” said John Krystal, MD, co-director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI), Robert L. McNeil Jr. Professor Translational Research Institute, Chairman and Professor of Psychiatry, and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology Krystal, one of the team of researchers who discovered the antidepressant effects of ketamine in the 1990s, said of Sanacora, “he has been an essential partner in moving this important work forward”.

The Team Science Award recognizes the growing importance of interdisciplinary teams in translating research discoveries into clinical applications and recognizes individuals, like Sanacora, who are committed to the advancement and practice of team science. The winners were selected by ACTS, a national organization that supports CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Award) programs across the United States, of which YCCI is one of the largest.

In its acceptance, Sanacora acknowledged the many centers, groups, and patients at Yale who were critical to the discovery and implementation of ketamine. These include the Yale Division of Molecular Psychiatry, the Yale MRI Center, and the Yale PET Center, which have helped elucidate the mechanisms of the drug’s antidepressant action; as well as the hospital research and clinical research units in neuroscience which have made it possible to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the treatment in controlled clinical trials. Finally, he credited Yale’s Interventional Psychiatry Service, which gave the Sanacora team the opportunity to rapidly implement and study ketamine treatment in real-world clinical settings.

Tara Bautista, PhD, TL1 Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale Stress Center, was named an Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow for her research exploring behavioral health interventions for vulnerable populations, specifically a mindfulness-based intervention for stressed parents of toddlers . Two Yale physician-scientists were also honored at the meeting with awards from the American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR), a conference co-supporter. Physician-Researcher Carlos Oliveira, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases), has been awarded the AFMR Junior Physician-Researcher Award for his work on the long-term effects of COVID- 19 in children; and Kevin Sheth, MD, professor of neurology and neurosurgery, was named AFMR Outstanding Investigator for identifying biological targets with the ability to translate into clinical treatments. An example is the potential of glyburide to prevent brain swelling in stroke patients. This work has been aided by advances in portable MRI systems, which Sheth is developing and evaluating. “Coupling biological translations with technological innovation is at the heart of what we do,” Sheth said.

“These awards are a testament to the talent of our researchers here at Yale and our institution’s commitment to fostering a collaborative culture that allows team science to thrive,” said Brian Smith, MD, associate dean for research. Clinical and Translational, YCCI Co-Director and Professor of Laboratory Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Medicine (Hematology) and Pediatrics. “We are proud to support this innovative work of our clinician scientists and the contributions they make to the advancement of healthcare.

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