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Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch

The Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch (ETPB) is part of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The ETPB conducts clinical research studies on mood disorders (including: major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder) with the goal of creating better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental illness.

Researchers at NIMH that specialize in Mood Disorders seek through RESEARCH STUDIES to:

  • DEVELOP medications that rapidly decrease symptoms of depression and suicide
  • IDENTIFY biological characteristics (biomarkers)
  • Better PREDICT with biomarkers who might respond to medications and treatments
  • UNDERSTAND the mechanisms in the brain that are causing depression and response to treatments

The Section on the Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders (SNMD) was established in 2010 and focuses on developing innovative pharmacological and neuromodulatory therapeutics for adult patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, and suicidal ideation. Our proof-of-concept (POC) studies are conducted primarily in drug-free depressed and/or suicidal subjects on the research unit of the intramural program (IRP), NIMH. The studies integrate a wide range of clinical, behavioral, and imaging technologies including magnetoencephalography (MEG), structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), polysomnography (PSG), plasma biomarkers, cognitive tasks, and noninvasive measures of neuroplasticity, in collaboration with the Noninvasive Neuromodulation Unit (NNU). Our research approach seeks to identify the clinical and biological signatures and mechanism of promising therapeutics with antidepressant and anti-suicidal ideation properties. The long-term vision of the SNMD is to develop the next generation of treatments that act more rapidly and effectively than existing treatments, particularly for severe TRD and suicide.