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Ross, Fineberg Awarded Research Grants by Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain

May 10, 2021

Two Yale Department of Psychiatry scientists have been awarded research grants by the new Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain.

David Ross, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry; and Sarah Fineberg, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, are among the first three researchers awarded grants through the Blair Research Initiative, sponsored by the Foundation for the Institutes of Health (FNIH).

Conceived by Mrs. William McCormick Blair, Jr., member of the FNIH Board of Directors, the Research Initiative supports the taking of risks and creative—even disruptive—ideas to accelerate diagnoses and treatments for severe mental illness. The goal is to foster transformative change, to save lives, and prevent great pain and suffering by helping uncover new targets and approaches for therapy. The program is funded by Blair, with the generous additional support of individual contributors.

The first three awards made by the research initiative provide a total of $400,000 to Ross, Fineberg, and Christopher Bartley, MD, PhD, from the University of California, San Francisco.

Ross will launch the next phase of his efforts to modernize psychiatric education for the next generation of mental health practitioners through the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative (NNCI), of which he is Executive Director.

“This gift will have a transformative impact, allowing us to expand on our previous work and pursue a broader mission: to bring neuroscience literacy to all mental health providers and, in turn, to improve our dialogue with patients, families, and the public," Ross said.

Fineberg’s study will identify and validate early alert markers of relationship rupture in Borderline Personality Disorder using digital phenotyping.

“I am very grateful for this support from Mrs. Blair and the FNIH,” Fineberg said. “With this award, my team will pursue a novel line of research to understand and interrupt the paths to extreme social distress in Borderline Personality Disorder.”

“By establishing this groundbreaking initiative, Mrs. Blair is helping to pave the way to broader understanding of the causes and effects for mental illness,” said Maria C. Freire, PhD, President and Executive Director of FNIH.

“I am intensely committed to advancing transformative and transcendent approaches to mental health research,” Blair said. “Especially critical at this time, mental health must be treated as a global public health response to, and recovery from, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on May 10, 2021