Helen S. Mayberg
Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. was born in 1956 in California. She is an American neurologist. Dr. Mayberg is known in particular for her work delineating abnormal brain function in patients with major depression using functional neuroimaging. This work led to the first pilot study of deep brain stimulation (DBS), a reversible method of selective modulation of a specific brain circuit, for patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Dr. Mayberg is a board certified neurologist trained at Columbia University's Neurological Institute in New York, with fellowship training in nuclear medicine at Johns Hopkins University. She received a BA in psychobiology from UCLA and her M.D. from the University of Southern California in 1981. Dr. Mayberg is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA and the Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair of Psychiatric Neuroimaging and Therapeutics. She has held previous academic appointments at Johns Hopkins University, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, and the University of Toronto where she was the first Sandra Rotman Chair in neuropsychiatry.
Dr. Mayberg is one of the world's authorities on the use of functional imaging to study neuropsychiatric disorders. Her research efforts over the last 20 years on defining a "neurology of depression" have been both translational and cross-disciplinary. These studies systematically examined depression pathophysiology in both psychiatric and neurological patients, as well as mechanisms mediating antidepressant response to various modes of treatments. Her 1997 limbic-cortical dysregulation model of depression has had a significant and sustained impact on the field, providing an integrative conceptual framework for a wide range of clinical and basic studies of disease pathology and antidepressant mechanisms. Current projects emphasize development of imaging biomarkers predictive of treatment response and optimal treatment selection for individual depressed patients at all stages of illness. Her long-term interest in neural network models of mood regulation in health and disease led to the development of a new intervention for treatment resistant patients using deep brain stimulation, a continued focus of ongoing research.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical treatment involving implantation of a device that sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain. This surgical procedure was first used to treat severe symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Supported by a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award from Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and based on her neural systems depression model, Dr. Mayberg with neurosurgeon Andres Lozano, PhD, MD, and psychiatrist Sidney Kennedy, MD, pioneered the use of high frequency deep brain stimulation of the subcallosal cingulate white matter in an initial pilot study of 6 patients with treatment resistant depression. This first study was then expanded to evaluate safety and efficacy of the procedure in 20 patients and reported a 60% response rate at 6 months that was maintained long term with continued stimulation. The experimental rationale and clinical response for this first group of patients to undergo DBS is considered by many to have set a precedent in psychiatry, a treatment developed directly from results of functional imaging studies. Subcallosal cingulate white matter DBS for depression remain an experimental procedure, but it is now undergoing controlled trials to establish its clinical efficacy as a therapeutic modality for treatment resistant depression. She also has been a consultant to a for-profit company, Advanced Neuromodulation Systems, also known as St. Jude Medical, which was doing clinical trials on her surgical technique, for which she holds a patent. She has been criticized on multiple occasions for not disclosing this and other apparent conflicts of interest.
Service and Awards
Dr. Mayberg is active in a wide variety of scientific organizations including the Society for Neuroscience, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the American Neurological Association, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. She is a current member of the Dana Alliance and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Neuroimage, Human Brain Mapping, Brain Stimulation, Neuroinformatics, Brain Imaging, and Behavior and Brain Structure and Function. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2008.
Dr. Mayberg has previously served on the Clinical Neuroscience and Biological Psychopathology and the Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Study Sections at NIH and the NINDS Advisory Council. Her research program has ongoing or previous funding from the NIMH, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, NARSAD Grants, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, the Dana Foundation, and the Woodruff Fund.
Dr. Mayberg was awarded the Arnold Pfeffer Prize in Neuropsychoanalysis with her colleague Mario Liotti MD, PhD, in 2003, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD) Falcone Prize in Mood Disorders Research in 2007, and was the Emil Kraeppelin Professor at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich in 2008 and the Raymond Adams Lecturer at the American Neurological Association meeting in 2009 .
- Targeting abnormal neural circuits in mood and anxiety disorders: from the laboratory to the clinic 
- Differences in Brain Glucose Metabolism Between Responders to CBT and Venlafaxine in a 16-Week Randomized Controlled Trial 
- Defining the Neural Circuitry of Depression: Toward a New Nosology With Therapeutic Implications 
Notes and references
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- Jamie Talan, Deep brain stimulation, Dana Press, 2008.
- Targeting abnormal neural circuits in mood and anxiety disorders: from the laboratory to the clinic : Abstract : Nature Neuroscience
- Differences in Brain Glucose Metabolism Between Responders to CBT and Venlafaxine in a 16-Week Randomized Controlled Trial - Kennedy et al. 164 (5): 778 - Am J Psychiatry
- Elsevier Article Locator
- DBS Summary
- "A Depression Switch" New York Times Magazine (April 6, 2006)