Hilary P. Blumberg, MD, John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience, Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and in the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, has been awarded the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF).
The award was presented October 27 at the foundation’s annual International Awards Dinner in New York City.
Established in 1993, the prize was renamed in 2012 in honor of the late Oliver D. Colvin, Jr., a great benefactor of the foundation. It honors an outstanding scientist carrying out work on the causes, pathophysiology, treatment, or prevention of affective disorders.
Blumberg is an international leader in research in bipolar disorder (BD) in children, adolescents, and adults. Among her important pioneering contributions was one of the first demonstrations of brain differences in individuals while experiencing manic symptoms of BD. She and her team subsequently showed brain differences in individuals experiencing depression, and differences present during asymptomatic times that may place them at risk for episodes. She has used innovative, integrative approaches with neuroimaging to show negative influences of genetic variations and early life stress (such as child abuse and neglect), and salutary influences of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, on the structure and function of the brain’s circuitry related to emotional processing.
Watch a video of Blumberg's work here.
Robert M. Post, MD, Chair of the Colvin Prize Selection Committee, said Blumberg “was the first to research and identify structural and functional brain differences in adolescents with bipolar disorder, implicating both gray and white matter as targets for bipolar disorder preventive and treatment interventions. She is currently a leading member of a new international consortium that is forming to study suicide in affective disorders. With her expertise and enthusiasm, her mentorship has been transformative in the development of young researchers focused on study of affective disorders.”
Blumberg said receiving the Colvin Award “is a peak of my researcher career. At each stage, BBRF has provided the support critical to propel me to the next through the Young and Independent Investigator programs, and deeply meaningful Klerman Award. I am humbled to receive the Colvin and will do my very best to honor it by accelerating on the research course to reduce suffering from mental illness and training the next generation of young investigators.”
Blumberg is perhaps best known for her pioneering work in these areas of research in youths with BD. This has included research evidence of differences in the trajectories of development of the brain circuitry during adolescence that has shaped the view of BD as a disorder of neurodevelopment and of adolescence as an important period.
Her more recent areas of study include some of the first multi-modality research on the brain circuitry of suicide risk in adolescents and young adults, as well as changes in the brain in BD with age later in life, and with her Brain Emotion Circuitry-Targeted Self-Monitoring and Regulation Therapy (BE-SMART) psychobehavioral treatment. Blumberg’s research brings great hope that on the horizon are new methods for early detection, targeted treatments, improved prognosis, and prevention of BD progression and suicide.
Blumberg graduated summa cum laude in neuroscience from Harvard University and completed her medical degree, psychiatry training, and specialty training in research in neuroimaging of neuropsychiatric disorders at Cornell University Medical College.