Hilary Blumberg, MD

John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Professor of Psychiatry, and in the Child Study Center and of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging; Director, Mood Disorders Research Program

Research Interests

Adolescent Psychiatry; Bipolar Disorder; Child Psychiatry; Depression; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Psychiatry; Suicide; Mood Disorders; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Neuropsychiatry

Research Organizations

Psychiatry: Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Psychotherapy Development Center | Stress & Addiction Clinical Research Program | Women's Behavioral Health Research, Division of | Yale Mood Disorders Research Program


Faculty Research

Obesity Research Working Group

WHRY Pilot Project Program Investigators

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

A focus of Dr. Blumberg's laboratory is the use of brain scanning techniques to elucidate the differences in brain circuitry that underlie mood disorders, and how these differences develop in children and adolescence and change over the lifespan into later life. The laboratory has identified differences in parts of the brain that are important in emotional regulation in bipolar disorder, including differences in the pattern of their development in the disorder. For example, the laboratory has identified amygdala differences that are present in adults with bipolar disorder and also in adolescents with bipolar disorder suggesting that these are features that appear early, at least by adolescence in the disorder. Differences in the ventral prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain that includes the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the prefrontal cortex above the eyes) appear to progress over the course of adolescence in bipolar disorder. This suggests that early intervention might be able to prevent progression and help prognosis. Recently, they identified brain circuitry differences in adolescents and young adults who made suicide attempts. Preliminary evidence suggests treatment may reverse some of the brain differences and may have the potential to prevent mood disorder progression and suicide.

The lab is working intensively on genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the brain differences and that may point to new prevention and treatment strategies. Brain scanning techniques used in this work include structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the size and shape of brain structures (including cutting edge new methods with 7 Tesla MRI scanning), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study how the parts of the brain function individually and as part of brain circuits, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study the connections between brain structures.

Specialized Terms: Adolescence; Bipolar Disorder; Brain; Depression; Suicide; Development; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Emotion; Endophenotype; Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Mania; Manic Depressive Disorder; Neuropsychiatry; Neuroscience; Women

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Blumberg is the Director of The Yale Mood Disorders Research Program (MDRP). The MDRP is dedicated to understanding the science of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and depression. The MDRP brings together a multi-disciplinary group of scientists from across the Yale campus in a highly collaborative research effort. The scientists use a wide variety of scientific methods to study how genetic and environmental factors affect the brain and influence the expression of mood disorders across the lifespan. Goals of the MDRP include the identification of biological markers for mood and related disorders and discovery of new treatment strategies. It is hoped that these research efforts will lead to new and improved methods for early detection and treatment, and someday prevention, of mood disorders and suicide.

  • MRI Brain Scanning Studies of Adolescents and Adults with Bipolar Disorder and Depression
  • MRI Brain Scanning Studies of Brain Development in Healthy Adolescents and Adults
  • MRI Brain Scanning Studies of Youths At-Risk for Bipolar Disorder
  • MRI and Gene Studies of Genes and the Brain
  • MRI Study of Stress Effects on the Brain and Development of Mood and Substance Use Disorders
  • MRI methods include: structural MRI, functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and structural MRI and magnetic resonance imaging at 7 Tesla.
  • Development of Novel Medication and Non-Medication Interventions to Reduce and Prevent Symptoms and Suicide

Selected Publications

Full List of PubMed Publications

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Contact Info

Hilary Blumberg, MD
Patient Care Locations
Yale Psychiatry470 Congress Avenue
New Haven, CT 06519
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Yale Psychiatry300 George Street, Ste 9th Floor
New Haven, CT 06511
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Mailing Address
PsychiatrySuite 901
300 George St

New Haven, CT 06511

Mood Disorders Research Program

Brain Differences in Adolescents and Young Adults with Bipolar Disorder with Past Suicide Attempts

These images, from Johnston et al, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2017, display regions of the brain important in emotional regulation where adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder who made suicide attempts showed decreases, compared to adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder who did not make attempts. The top left image shows a region of decreased gray matter in ventral prefrontal cortex, the top right image shows a region of decreased functioning in ventral prefrontal cortex and the lower image shows regions of decreases in the structural integrity of white matter in connections from the ventral prefrontal cortex.