The Deeda Blair Research Initiative was created to improve the diagnosis and treatment of severe mental illness, including mood disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders. The intention is to accelerate basic research to discover new targets and approaches for therapy with unrestricted and flexible funding.
Unlike a typical grant program, these awards are determined by a Scientific Award Selection Committee of independent scientists and thinkers. Awardees are encouraged to develop novel ways of thinking about the brain. In addition to transforming what we already know, these individuals or groups will seek new approaches to change our basic understanding of mental illness. Though the focus of the program is mental illness, it may help in an understanding of the brain and of its other diseases.
The following leaders from major scientific institutions, clinical practice and industry recommend rigorous and outstanding scientists for the awards.
Samantha Boardman Rosen, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College
Ricardo Dolmetsch, PhD
President, Research & Development, uniQure
Mark Daly, PhD
Co-Director, Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute
Maria C. Freire, PhD
Principal, The Freire Group
Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, DH
Chen Professor of Bioengineering and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
Paul Herrling, PhD
Retired Chairman, Novartis Institute for Tropical Disease; Professor Emeritus, University of Basel, Switzerland
Thomas Insel, MD
Former Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and President and Co-founder, Mindstrong Health
MD, Visiting Professor, Oxford University
Andrew Solomon, PhD
Writer, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University Medical Center
Bruce Stillman, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Selection Criteria and Process
- Awards will be granted to individuals of exceptional promise with a track record of innovative work. The Committee will identify and recommend such individuals.
- Awards will go to creative and imaginative individuals or groups who understand a perspective of mental health as a global public health problem. Their ideas may even be a challenge to the existing research in mental illness.
- Consideration will also be given to early-stage biotechnology companies where much innovation and translational research take place.
- Through this process, standard conflict of interest practices will be strictly observed.
2023 Research Initiative Recipients
Dr. Amin was selected for his proposal to develop a molecular differentiation atlas of the human brain with 3D stem cell models to investigate neurons implicated in psychiatric disorders.
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Edgcomb was selected for her proposal to develop phenotype algorithms for the identification of childhood-onset serious mental illness in electronic health records using informatics and data science approaches.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Kim was selected for her proposal to identify the molecular mechanisms of metabolic reprogramming in psychiatric illnesses through patient-derived cellular models Recent genome-wide association studies have highlighted points of places in the brain associated with metabolism as key genetic vulnerabilities for psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Dr. Power was selected for his proposal to create precision functional brain mapping that informs circuit-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation to modulate human behavior.
2021 Research Initiative Recipients
National Institutes of Health
Dr. Bartley has improved existing immune profiling technology and used it to identify and novel autoantibodies associated with schizophrenia and determine precisely where these antibodies bind to proteins in the brain.
Dr. Fineberg has used technology and pattern analysis to identify and validate early relationship ruptures in borderline personality disorder.
National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative and The University of Alberta
Dr. Ross has worked to transform the medical educational model, creating tools to help psychiatrists and other mental health professionals integrate cutting-edge neuroscience into clinical practice, and ultimately provide better care to patients.