News Release

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation honors outstanding psychiatric researchers

Klerman & Freedman Prizes awarded to scientists advancing prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders

Grant and Award Announcement

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

image: 2022 Klerman and Freedman Prize Winners view more 

Credit: BBRF

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) today announced the winners of its 2022 Klerman and Freedman Prizes, recognizing exceptional clinical and basic research in mental illness. The prizes are awarded annually to honor the work of outstanding scientists who have been supported by the Foundation’s Young Investigator Grants Program.

“The Klerman and Freedman prizes recognize innovative thinking and outstanding talent across the field of neuropsychiatry,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “The important work of our award recipients is furthering the quest to help identify the biological roots of mental illness, to develop new diagnostic tools and more effective and targeted treatments, and to pave the way toward prevention. We applaud these researchers for their groundbreaking work, and we thank our generous donors for supporting scientists in brain and behavior research.”

The prizewinners are selected by the BBRF Scientific Council comprised of 181 pre-eminent mental health researchers. 

Since its founding in 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $430 million to more 5,100 scientists around the world. The Klerman and Freedman Prizes are named for Gerald Klerman, M.D., and Daniel Freedman, M.D., neuropsychiatry pioneers who played seminal roles as researchers, teachers, physicians, and administrators. 

This year, BBRF also honored the late Stephen A. Lieber, a global champion of psychiatric research and former Chairman of the Foundation’s Board who passed away in March 2020.

“Steve, along with his late wife Connie, passionately believed in seeding the field of neuropsychiatric research with as many talented scientists as possible to make a substantive impact on the broad spectrum of mental health research,” said Dr. Borenstein. “Steve fervently understood that research holds our best hope for alleviating the immense suffering caused by mental illness.”

Six scientists received recognition for their outstanding work in brain and behavior research:

2022 Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research
Shan H. Siddiqi, M.D., Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Siddiqi’s research is focused on causal mapping of human brain function and dysfunction. Using techniques such as functional connectivity MRI, Dr. Siddiqi maps brain circuits to link brain lesions and brain stimulation sites that can modify different psychiatric symptoms. These circuits can then be targeted with treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS) to alleviate symptoms in psychiatric disorders.

2022 Freedman Prizewinner for Exceptional Basic Research
Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz, Ph.D., Cornell University

The overarching aim of Dr. Fernandez-Ruiz’s research is to understand how neuronal dynamics in distributed brain circuits support complex cognitive functions and how small imbalances can lead to pathological states. This process is supported by the coordination of different neuronal populations in distributed brain circuits. With limitations imposed by current technology, the lab seeks to develop new methods for a more precise interrogation and manipulation of brain circuit dynamics in behaving animals.

2022 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention
Rachel Emma Lean, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

Dr. Lean’s research broadly focuses on the neurobiological and socio-environmental mechanisms of executive dysfunction, which is a major transdiagnostic risk factor for developmental psychopathology. Dr. Lean is currently examining the early development of top-down cognitive processes, such as executive function in early childhood, in a cohort of socially diverse children followed from birth to age 3. She uses diffusion and resting-state functional MRI to assess the structural and functional neural underpinnings of emerging executive function skills.

2022 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention
Sunny Xiaojing Tang, M.D., Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Institute of Behavioral Science Zucker School of Medicine, Hofstra/Northwell Health

Dr. Tang’s area of expertise is in technology and psychosis, particularly using automated computerized methods to generate quantitative markers of psychosis and related disorders, to better understand, prevent, and treat psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia. Dr. Tang seeks to understand the brain changes that occur during psychosis, including those linked with social impairments and language changes, which are very prominent in psychotic disorders and negatively impact an individual’s quality of life.

2022 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention
Chandramouli Chandrasekaran, Ph.D., Boston University, Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. Chandrasekaran seeks to understand neural circuit dynamics in cortical and subcortical areas of the monkey brain that mediate decision-making, an integral part of everyday life profoundly impacted by mental illness. Dr. Chandrasekaran’s approach is to train macaque monkeys to perform sophisticated cognitive tasks that involve decision-making and record from their brains while they perform these tasks. The objective of this work is to help guide the development of new circuit-level therapies, brain-machine interfaces, and drugs for mental illness and neurological disorders.

2022 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention
Mohsen Jamali, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Jamali shares a long-standing goal in cognitive neuroscience: to unravel the neuronal basis of social cognition and the processes underpinning its dysfunction in humans. To this end, by directly recording from single neurons and implementing computational modeling, Dr. Jamali seeks to better understand single- neuronal and population dynamics that drive high-level cognitive processes, how these systems are disrupted in human cognitive disorders, and how they may be targeted to improve symptoms.

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
BBRF is committed to alleviating the suffering of mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. The Foundation funds the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and psychiatry to better understand the causes and develop new ways to treat brain and behavior disorders. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $430 million to fund more than 5,100 leading scientists around the world. This has led to over $4 billion in additional funding for these scientists. 100% of every dollar donated for research is invested in our research grants. Our operating expenses are covered by separate foundation grants.

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