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McLean Launches Alliance with Weizmann Institute of Science to Advance Neuropsychiatric Care

January 20, 2017 Print

McLean Hospital and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, a world leader in brain research, are launching an alliance that will lead to further understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders and accelerate the development of corresponding treatments.

“The lack of understanding and under-treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders are significant public health concerns,” said Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer for McLean Hospital and professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “The only way that we’re going to make the most progress in future treatments, preventions, and cures is to combine efforts across the world.”

Rony Paz, PhD, and Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD
Rony Paz, PhD, (left) director of the Lab for Neural Mechanisms of Learning at the Weizmann Institute of Science; Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer for McLean Hospital

Rony Paz, PhD, director of the Lab for Neural Mechanisms of Learning at the Weizmann Institute of Science, added, “The goal for the alliance is to demonstrate how collaboration can accelerate understanding of the mechanisms involved in brain disorders and translate that learning into care advances for patients and their families.”

The collaboration features three main initiatives: joint research projects, where basic and preclinical researchers at the Weizmann Institute will collaborate with basic and clinical researchers at McLean; shared intellectual resources and training, including visiting students, visiting scientists, and post-doctoral fellows; and collaborative meetings and symposia.

The number of individuals affected with psychiatric illness has been consistently rising, exacting an enormous toll on individuals, family members, and healthcare systems. Certain disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, pose a major challenge, as their care—diagnosis and treatment—is lacking in specificity and reliability.

To address these needs, McLean Hospital and the Weizmann Institute are combining their complementary basic, preclinical, and clinical research resources. Individually and collectively, McLean and the Weizmann Institute have wide-ranging expertise in genetics, cellular and molecular biology, systems physiology, bioimaging, and computational and behavioral neuroscience.

By bringing all these resources together, the alliance will have the ability to efficiently take highly targeted research from “the bench to the bedside”—advancing research through each and every stage and translating that evidence into innovative clinical approaches that improve patient care. The alliance’s initial research projects will be focused on depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders.