Thomas Insel, MD
Director, National Institue of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health
From neurons to neighborhoods: Charting a new science of mental health
Abstract: Mental disorders are common, disabling, and often deadly. Suicide, which usually involves a mental disorder, accounts for more than 36,000 deaths each year -- twice the number of deaths from homicide and more than deaths from traffic accidents. For disorders that result in so much morbidity and mortality, we are surprisingly ignorant. Increasingly we recognize that mental disorders can be addressed as brain disorders, but the specific cells and circuits that mediate the symptoms of depression or psychosis or anorexia are not yet clear. We now consider most mental disorders as neurodevelopmental syndromes, but how the trajectory of development runs off course is not known. And we understand the power of biomedical and psychosocial interventions for treating mental disorders, but how these treatments alter brain function to relieve depression or reduce psychosis remains a mystery. This lecture will propose that the solution to the morbidity and mortality of mental disorders resides in neuroscience. A deeper understanding of how the brain functions will yield new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics, bending the curve for millions affected by mental disorders.
Bio: Thomas R. Insel, M.D., is Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) committed to research on mental disorders. Dr. Insel has served as Director of this $1.5 billion dollar agency since 2002. During his tenure, and neurobiology of mental disorders as well as transforming approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Prior to serving as NIMH Director, Dr. Insel was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and director of Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Atlanta. Dr. Insel's research has examined the neural basis of complex social behaviors, including maternal care and attachment. A member of the Institute of Medicine, he has received numerous national and international awards and served in several leadership roles at NIH.