Graeme Mason, PhD

Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and of Psychiatry; Director Metabolic Modeling and Director Psychiatric MRS; Director, Neuroimaging Sciences Training Program; Chair, Magnetic Resonance Research Center Protocol Review Committee

Research Departments & Organizations

Radiology & Biomedical Imaging: Bioimaging Sciences: Magnetic Resonance Research Center; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Psychiatry: Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY) | Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism | Neurocognition, Neurocomputation, and Neurogenetics, Division of | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic

Diabetes Research Center

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Interests

Alcoholic Intoxication; Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System; Alcoholism; Amino Acids; Carbohydrates; Central Nervous System Diseases; Cocaine-Related Disorders; Fatty Acids; Mathematical Computing; Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action; Mood Disorders; Neuroimaging; Physiological Effects of Drugs; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Tobacco Use Disorder

Research Summary

Dr. Mason's research program is focused on the development and evaluation of quantitative hypotheses of brain energy utilization, neurotransmitter metabolism, and function, as well as their application to neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Mason's primary methodologies are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mathematical modeling of metabolism and enzyme kinetics, and the effects of nicotine and ethanol on GABA, glutamate, and energy metabolism form a primary research focus for his program.

MRS uses technology that is similar to that of standard MRI, but the results are measurements of chemicals instead of images. The chemical measurements are used to measure the effects of variability in function, disease, and pharmacology on the concentrations of brain glutamate, glutamine, GABA and other compounds that are important for brain activity.

Among the most unique capacities of this laboratory is the ability to use MRS to measure metabolic rates with the stable isotope 13C by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. It is possible to observe the synthesis of glutamate, glutamine, GABA, and other compounds in the intact brain, with collaborative studies to examine other systems. Measurements of the synthesis of these compounds provide an assessment of neurotransmission and energetics in the brain. To plan experiments and evaluate data, mathematical simulations of brain metabolism are used with a user-friendly package called CWave, which allows a user to simulate the flow of isotopic labels through metabolism and follow their distribution in various isotopomeric patterns.  As theories are developed, new experiments planned, and new data obtained, the models are constantly under revision and expansion.

The goals of the laboratory are to acquire the necessary data and create concrete mathematical expressions of the metabolic regulation of metabolism in the brain and other systems. Such expressions will help understand basic biochemical regulation, aid the development and evaluation of pharmacologic agents, and predict the effects of functional perturbations on the health and activity of the human brain.

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Mason's research integrates quantitative approaches to measure functional brain chemistry and the study of neuropsychiatric disorders. The primary methods used are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy, with some studies using mass spectrometry, as well as the mathematical assessment of metabolism. Current areas of research include alcohol effects, depression, manic-depressive disorder, alcoholism, panic disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His primary areas of interest are the effects of alcohol on the brain, and to that end, his research evaluates acute and chronic effects of alcohol on the brain, from the perspectives of neurotransmission, metabolism, adaptation, and vulnerability to dependence.

Clinical Trials

Conditions Study Title
Diseases of the Nervous System, Mental Health & Behavioral Research Examination of Glutamate and mGluR5 in Psychiatric Disorders
Mental Health & Behavioral Research Evaluation of glutamate levels in adolescent mood disorders
Mental Health & Behavioral Research Imaging mGluR5 and synaptic density in psychiatric disorders
Diabetes Mellitus - Type 1, Diabetes Mellitus - Type 2, Diseases of the Endocrine System Restoring brain metabolism and function in older adult T1DM patients using an AP system
Diabetes Mellitus - Type 1, Diabetes Mellitus - Type 2, Diseases of the Endocrine System Investigating the role of the polyol pathway in the central nervous system: an intervention study
Diabetes Mellitus - Type 1, Diseases of the Endocrine System, Diseases of the Nervous System Impact of Hypoglycemia on Brain Ketone and Neurotransmitter Metabolism in Type 1 DM
Diseases of the Nervous System, Mental Health & Behavioral Research Biomarkers of Clinical Subtype and Treatment Response in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Mental Health & Behavioral Research Glutamate-Glutamine Cycling (VCYC) During Cocaine Abstinence Using 13C-MRS


  • Metabolic Modeling of 13C Hyperpolarized Data for Studying Brain Metabolism and Neurotransmission Philadelphia, United States (2018 - 2018)

  • Efeitos Neuroquímicos do Álcool Observados in vivo com Ressonância Magnética Juiz de Fora, Brazil (2018 - 2018)

  • Potential for Ketone Bodies to Support Sobriety from Alcohol Copenhagen, Denmark (2018 - 2018)

  • A Metabolic Perspective of Alcohol Use and Dependence Copenhagen, Denmark (2018 - 2018)

  • Alcohol and Brain Metabolism Worcester, United States (2017 - 2017)

  • A metabolic perspective of alcohol dependence and withdrawal Delhi, India (2017 - 2017)

  • Effects of alcohol and nicotine on brain metabolism Boston, United States (2017 - 2017)

  • The first steps to getting your own money Berlin, Germany (2017 - 2017)

  • Grantcraft: The art of writing a successful grant proposal Berlin, Germany (2017 - 2017)

  • Basic NMR Theory Delhi, India (2017 - 2017)

  • 13C Studies of Metabolism In Vivo: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy and Mathematical Modeling Delhi, India (2017 - 2017)

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders: A Metabolic Perspective New York, United States (2016 - 2016)

  • Practical Aspects of 13C MR Studies Konstanz, Germany (2016 - 2016)

  • Relationships of Glutamate Concentrations with Glutamatergic Firing Atlanta, United States (2016 - 2016)

  • Principles of Metabolic Modeling of Isotopic Labeling Philadelphia, United States (2016 - 2016)

  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy of Brain Metabolism of Glucose, Acetate, and Ethanol Athens, United States (2015 - 2015)

  • Neuroimaging of Effects of Ketamine São Paulo, Brazil (2015)

    Project with Renério Fraguas, Diretor da Divisão de Psiquiatria e Psicologia do Hospital Universitário - HU USP Coordenador do Grupo de Pesquisa em Depressão e Especialidades Médicas do Laboratório de Investigação Médica

  • 13C MRS Studies of Brain Metabolism of Alcohol and Acetate Birmingham, United States (2015 - 2015)

  • Brain Oxidation of Ethanol and Acetate: Influence of Chronic Alcohol Exposure Indianapolis, United States (2015 - 2015)

  • Alcohol and Brain Metabolism Charleston, United States (2014 - 2014)

  • Measurement of Heterogeneous Metabolism by 13C Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: Practicalities and Strategies Lexington, United States (2014 - 2014)

  • Metabolic Kinetics in Psychiatric Disease Lisbon, Portugal (2013 - 2013)

  • MR Spectroscopy and Imaging for Beginners – Parts 1 and 2 Lisbon, Portugal (2013 - 2013)

  • Dynamic Imaging and Spectroscopy of Psychiatric Illness Lisbon, Portugal (2013 - 2013)

    Chair, organizing committee for the ISMRM Workshop on Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Alcohol and the Brain: a Metabolic Perspective Orlando, United States (2013 - 2013)

  • Ethanol, its Metabolism, and the Brain Boston, United States (2013 - 2013)

  • Espectroscopia por ressonância magnética: teoria e aplicação ao estudo dos efeitos cerebrais de étanol em dose aguda Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2011 - 2011)

  • Efeitos agudos de étanol no cérebro investigados pela técnica de espectroscopia de ressonância nuclear Porto Alegre, Brazil (2011 - 2011)

  • Studies of Brain Metabolism in Psychiatric Disorders Porto Alegre, Brazil (2011)

    Discussions of experiment design and results.

  • Compartmental analysis and sensitivities of kinetic carbon-13 labeling studies Athens, Greece (2011 - 2011)

  • Efeitos neuroquímicos do álcool e da nicotina observados in vivo com ressonância magnética Juiz de Fora, Brazil (2011 - 2011)

    April 26, Juiz de Fora, Brazil

  • Efectos de Étanol en Neuroquímicos Cerebrales Buenos Aires, Argentina (2009 - 2009)

    Chair, Organizer of Symposium

  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Neurotransmitters in Psychiatric Disorders Lanzhou, China (2009 - 2009)

  • Neurochemical Effects of Acute Nicotine and Alcohol Lanzhou, China (2009 - 2009)

  • Member Doctoral Thesis Evaluation Committee Lanzhou, China (2009 - 2009)

    Member Doctoral Thesis Evaluation Committee

  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Applied to Study Neurochemistry Lanzhou, China (2009 - 2009)

  • MRS Methodology for Studies of Alcoholism Paris, France (2008 - 2008)

  • Neurotransmitters in Neuropsychiatric Disorders Quebec, Canada (2008 - 2008)

    Chair, organizing committee for the educational ISMRM Workshop on Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Espectroscopia por Ressonância Magnética Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2008 - 2008)

    Co-chair of Educational Series at the Congresso IBRO/LARC de Neurociências da América Latina, Caribe, e Península Ibérica, Búzios, Brazil

  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in Neuropsychiatric Disorders Alberta, Canada; Banff, Canada (2005 - 2005)

    Chair, Organizing committee for the educational ISMRM Workshop on Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Dynamic Measurements of Cortical GABA Kyoto, Japan (2004 - 2004)

    Kyoto, Japan. Psychiatry Study Group of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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