'Healthy Minds Across America,' a Free Public Forum on Progress and Promise

Stony Brook forum to feature local experts in one of 48 same-day events across U.S. and Canada bringing the latest findings and hope to those affected by mental illness

The following press release was issued by NARSAD, the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research. It describes an event at which Fritz Henn, Associate Laboratory Director for Life Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, will be a featured speaker. For more information about this or other NARSAD events, contact Kristen Simone, 516 829-0091, ksimone@narsad.org or Natalie Greaves, 516 829-0091, ngreaves@narsad.org.

(Great Neck, NY) — Long Island residents concerned about the toll that mental health disorders are taking on their families and communities will have a unique opportunity to hear from world-class experts about the causes, symptoms and progression of such illnesses as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and autism, and learn about current and potential treatments.

As part of Healthy Minds Across America, an international day of free public forums on the progress of research on mental health disorders, SUNY Stony Brook, in cooperation with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, will host one of 48 events in the United States and Canada on Sunday, Sept. 14.

The events have been organized by NARSAD, the world’s leading charity dedicated to mental health research, in partnership with many of North America’s most prominent universities and research centers. Like SUNY Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, these institutions are home to scientists whose cutting-edge research on the brain and its disorders has been supported by NARSAD since it began awarding grants more than 20 years ago.

The local forum will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at SUNY Stony Brook’s Wang Center, Room 301, located in Stony Brook. The featured presentations and speakers will include:

  • “Translating Basic Science Into Patient Care” by Fritz Henn, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for life sciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory;
  • “Stem Cells, New Neurons and Mental Health” by Grigori Enikolopov, Ph.D., associate professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; and
  • “New Paths in Mental Health Research From Studies of Genetically Modified Mice” by Lorna Role, Ph.D., professor and chair, neurobiology and behavior, Stony Brook University.

Mary F. Kritzer, Ph.D., associate professor, neurobiology and behavior, Stony Brook University, will moderate the forum, which will include question-and-answer sessions with each of the experts. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended and can be made at www.narsad.org, or by calling NARSAD at 800-829-8289.

Across the board, the experts who will speak at the Healthy Minds Across America forums represent the forefront of neuropsychiatric research and include heads of psychiatry departments from many of the most respected medical schools and treatment facilities, as well as some early-career scientists whose research has already led to breakthroughs, and even a Nobel laureate. Most of the speakers have received grants from NARSAD in support of their research or, like Dr. Henn of Brookhaven, are members of NARSAD’s Scientific Council, a group of 110 experts in the key areas of neuropsychiatric research that guides the organization’s grantmaking activities.

“Never, to my knowledge, has there been such a concerted effort to bring the public together with the experts who hold the most knowledge about an area of human illness that accounts for more loss and devastation than any other,” said Herbert Pardes, M.D., president of NARSAD’s Scientific Council, who is also president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and a former head of the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Mental illness is so prevalent in our society, estimated to affect as many as one in four North Americans in any given year, with one in 10 suffering serious, chronic conditions.”

“More individuals and families are speaking out today than ever before about the pain and loss caused by mental illness,” said Constance E. Lieber, NARSAD’s president emerita, who is chairing this event.

“We hope that people who are coping with mental illness, their friends and loved ones, and mental health professionals will all attend these forums to learn about the progress that’s being made in understanding and treating mental illness,” added Ms. Lieber, “and why there is reason for hope for improved treatments and even cures, if research can continue to flourish.”

With that concern and goal in mind, this fall, NARSAD will announce the launch of a $200 million fundraising campaign — which will also be called Healthy Minds Across America — to increase the organization’s capacity to fund innovative research on mental health disorders. Outside of the U.S. federal government, NARSAD, a nonprofit organization, is the largest source of competitive funding for mental health research.

“Government funding for mental health research has remained flat in the United States, and probably won’t get better any time soon,” said Dr. Pardes, who helped to found NARSAD. “But we can’t wait for the government. Too many lives are at stake, and we must not lose momentum in the pace of discovery we’ve achieved over the past two decades.”

Since 1987, when NARSAD began giving grants as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, it has awarded more than $238 million in research funds to over 2,700 scientists at universities and medical centers in the U.S., Canada and 25 other countries. In 2008 alone, NARSAD has given $19 million in grants to nearly 300 scientists conducting clinical and basic research relating to depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, childhood mental disorders, and other conditions.

People interested in learning more about Healthy Minds Across America and NARSAD should visit www.narsad.org. For additional details, link to:

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