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NIMH Grantees Named Recipients of Prestigious Presidential Award

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) congratulates four NIMH grantees who received the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers  (PECASE). Kafui Dzirasa from Duke University, Tina Goldstein from the University of Pittsburgh, Sachin Patel of Vanderbilt University and Courtney Miller from the Scripps Florida Research Institute joined scientists and engineers from across the country to meet with President Obama at the White House for the May 5th awards ceremony honoring the recipients.

Established in 1996 by President Clinton, the PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the government of the United States on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. The awards represent the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the United States’ position of leadership in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance scientific missions important to federal agencies. 

Kafui Dzirasa, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University’s Institute for Brain Sciences. Dr. Dzirasa has focused on stress experiences  and their role in instigating severe neuropsychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was recognized at the White House for his studies of how key genes interact with stress and other environmental factors.

Tina Goldstein, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry, with academic interests in psychosocial treatments, bipolar disorder, and suicidal behaviors. Dr. Goldstein was recognized for her work that focuses on dialectical behavior therapy  as a skills-based psychotherapy in the treatment of adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Sachin Patel, MD, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is recognized for research that focuses on the role of endocannabinoids—a class of signaling molecules in the brain—in stress-induced neuroadaptation. His NIMH-funded project  is testing the hypothesis that increasing endogenous brain cannabinoid levels via a novel pharmacological strategy could represent a potential treatment approach for mood and anxiety disorders.

Courtney Miller, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Scripps Florida Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Miller was recognized for her NIMH-funded research  that focuses on understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of memory disorders, with the goal of developing novel therapeutics.

The PECASE Award supports the continued development of the awardees, fosters innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increases awareness of careers in science and engineering, and highlights the importance of science and technology for the nation's future.