Psychedelic research receives Young Investigator Grants

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has announced it is awarding $10.2 million in Young Investigator Grants including for projects investigating psychedelics.

The grants have been awarded to 150 promising early career scientists who are working to identify causes, improve treatments, and develop methods of prevention for psychiatric illnesses that impact millions of people in the United States and around the world.

The 2023 Young Investigators are focused on a broad range of psychiatric illnesses. More than half of the projects are relevant to the study or treatment of depression and schizophrenia. 

Addiction/substance-use disorders, anxiety, and PTSD are also the focus of many of the 2023 projects, reflecting their prevalence in the population and the critical need for new and improved treatments. 

Reflecting the explosion of interest in psychedelics, seven projects explore the mechanisms through which psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, appear to bring relief to at least some people with depression and PTSD. 

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Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D, President & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation commented: “BBRF Young Investigators represent a new generation of researchers who are pioneering breakthroughs in mental health research. They are at the cutting edge of progress in brain and psychiatric research.

“We are excited to support the work of these young scientists who are applying powerful new technologies and insights to better understand, treat, and provide cures for mental illness.”

Other researchers are focused on the gut microbiome—the collection of microorganisms that populate our gut. Four 2023 grantees will investigate aspects of what is sometimes called the “gut-brain axis.” 

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Eight research projects attempt to uncover why the sexes are affected in divergent ways in certain neuropsychiatric disorders. Other projects focus on suicide prevention, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and psychosis.

The 2023 Young Investigator recipients were selected by the Foundation’s Scientific Council, comprised of 194 leading experts across disciplines in brain and behavior research. This year the Foundation’s Scientific Council reviewed more than 700 applications and selected the 150 Young Investigators from four categories of research: basic research, next generation therapies, diagnostic tools/early intervention, and new technologies.

Of the award recipients, 76% of grantees are from the United States (114 grantees), 24% of grantees come from 16 other countries (36 grantees): Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Norway Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

“BBRF Young Investigator grants have led to groundbreaking research that has improved the lives of people living with mental illness,” said Herbert Pardes, M.D., President of the BBRF Scientific Council. 

“These early-career scientists are making significant strides in basic research, early intervention, and diagnostic tools, new technologies, and next-generation therapies that will offer the best hope for advances in treatments for psychiatric illness.”

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