January 22, 2001
Nemeroff's lecture digs
causes of adult depression
By Sarah Dergarabedian
Most people experience an occasional funk or the blues at one time or another, but clinical depression is a much more serious and debilitating condition that affects an estimated 18 million Americans each year.
Charles Nemeroff, Harris Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Sciences, specializes in pinpointing the biological basis
for major neuropsychiatric disorders including affective disorders, Alzheimers
disease, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. He has found that people
who experienced abuse and neglect in childhood, particularly if they also
have a family history of depression, may be at increased risk for adulthood
As part of the Great Teachers Lecture Series, the award-winning researcher
will discuss the neurobiology of depression and how the physiological
effects of childhood trauma may contribute to depression and anxiety in
adults, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Miller-Ward Alumni House.
Nemeroff will discuss his hypothesis, published several years ago in
Scientific American, that early traumatic experiences can trigger the
bodys fight or flight stress response and lead to permanent
changes in brain chemistry.
This hypothesis, the Stress-Diathesis Model of Mood Disorders, became
the basis for a five-year, $13 million grant awarded in 1999 by the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The grant supported the establishment of the Emory Conte Center for the
Neuroscience of Mental Disorders, comprising a team of neuroscientists
from Emory, Yale and Princeton universities and led by Nemeroff.
Essentially, were trying to understand the biological basis
behind the risk for developing psychiatric disorders in adulthood,
Nemeroff said. These studies have important implications not only
for the neurobiology of depression, but for the development of novel treatment
strategies for depression, certain anxiety disorders and child abuse.
Nemeroff received his medical and doctoral degrees in neurobiology from
the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill. He
came to Emory in 1991 from Duke Medical Center, where he served as chief
of biological psychiatry.
He has received several major research grants from NIMH and other foundations
throughout his career. Nemeroff also has earned numerous awards for excellence
in research, including the 2000 William C. Menninger Memorial Award from
the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine
for distinguished contributions to the science of mental health.
Nemeroffs lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 404-727-6000.