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Cho, Favuzzi, Girgenti, Keding, Westwater Awarded BBRF Young Investigator Grants

October 20, 2023

Five Yale Department of Psychiatry and Child Study Center researchers have been awarded Young Investigator Grants from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Youngsun Cho, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and in the Child Study Center; Emilia Favuzzi, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry; Matthew Girgenti, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry; Taylor Keding, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow in the Child Study Center; and Margaret Westwater, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, are among 150 early career scientists worldwide honored with the award.

Collectively, those scientists will share over $10.2 million in grants to pursue innovative mental health research. The scientists are seeking to identify causes, improve treatments, and develop methods of prevention for psychiatric illnesses that impact millions of people in the United States and throughout the world.

Since 1987, the foundation has awarded more than $450 million in research grants to more than 5,400 scientists globally.

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.

Areas of research for the Yale recipients are:

  • Cho: Childhood Cognition and Motivation
  • Favuzzi: Early-Life Immune Challenges
  • Girgenti: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Keding: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Westwater: Eating Disorders

“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,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, president & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “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.”

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 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 percent of grantees are from the United States (114 grantees). Twenty-four percent 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, MD, 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.”

BBRF awards research grants to develop improved treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness. These illnesses include addiction, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia, as well as research on suicide prevention.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 20, 2023