The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) has awarded its 2019 Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research to John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine.
Krystal, Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, shares the award with Dennis S. Charney, MD, Dean and President for Academic Affairs at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A third Colvin recipient was Sophia Frangou, MD, PhD, from the University of British Columbia and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The awards were presented November 1 at the foundation’s annual International Awards Dinner in New York City.
Krystal and Charney were honored for their role in discovering the rapid antidepressant effects of the anesthetic ketamine in the 1990s at Yale. In March, the Food and Drug Administration approved the nasal spray esketamine – derived from ketamine – for patients with treatment-resistant depression.
“They (Krystal and Charney) introduced a new hypothesis – that depression reflected pathology of cortical and limbic glutamate signaling – and reported the rapid and robust antidepressant effects of single intravenous doses of ketamine in depressed patients,” said Robert M. Post, MD, Chair of the Colvin Prize Selection Committee. “For the first time, patients with severe depression had the possibility of experiencing relief within 24 hours of their first medication dose.”
Yale researchers have spent the past two decades researching ketamine by experimenting with using subanesthetic doses of the drug delivered intravenously in controlled clinic settings for patients with severe depression who have not improved with standard antidepressant treatments.
Besides his work in the area of depression, Krystal is a leading researcher into alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. His work links psychopharmacology, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, and computational neuroscience to study the neurobiology and treatment of these disorders.
He is Chief of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Yale New Haven Hospital, Co-Director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Division of the VA National Center for PTSD, and Director of the NIAAA Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism.
He is a Scientific Council Member at BBRF, the nation’s top non-governmental funder of mental health research grants. Since 1987 the foundation has awarded more than $408 million to fund more than 5,900 grants to more than 4,800 scientists globally.