September, 2014
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Society of Biological Psychiatry
"Scientists collaborating to eliminate the suffering of mental illness."
In This Issue
SOBP Vision Statement
Message from the Editor
2015 Meeting Announcement
2014 Meeting Recap - Part 2
Other Meetings of Interest
Get Involved
Add SOBP to your Contacts
SOBP Contact Information
SOBP Vision Statement

The vision of the Society of Biological Psychiatry is to integrate, advance, and promulgate science relevant to psychiatric disorders, in order to reduce or prevent the suffering of people with these conditions.  

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May 14-16, 2015



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Message from the Editor

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In this issue of our newsletter, SOBP President Ned Kalin and this program Chair, Amit Etkin, announce the theme of our meeting in Toronto in May: "Stress, Emotion, Neurodevelopment and Psychopathology." In his note, he reminds us that although plenary sessions set the table for the meeting, the real 'meal' is the mix of high-quality symposia and posters.  I would like to issue a challenge for us all, then, to bring our best work to Toronto.

                The topic chosen is timely and particularly relevant for SOBP. It is my belief that our society, more than any other group, provides the best venue for translational neuroscience in that we have a very strong mix of clinician and basic investigators (as well as clinical practitioners). This mix positions us well to think about the impact of the environment, working with and against the genetic substrate of an individual, to modify the plastic brain and impact human behavior. The link between stress and negative life events in the expression of psychiatric illnesses is strong. Children exposed to early life stress carry forward for the rest of their lives an increased risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Stress, particularly early in the course of several major disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) may be the precipitating event for the onset of illness. One of the most commonly under-recognized, but growing public health concerns for a country enveloped in war for more than a decade, is PTSD that, by definition, is a maladaptive response to extreme stress. The mechanisms whereby stress impacts the function of and development of the brain remains incompletely described, although advances in basic neuroscience in this area have been significant in the past decade. However, these advances have not been regularly applied to translational and then clinical research and do not typically impact treatment planning. I would challenge us, then, as we build symposia to bridge this gap by choosing topics and speakers that will help us, the attendees, apply new knowledge across research and clinical venues.

                I have a selfish interest in such an approach. Although I spend most of my time as an administrative clod these days, I still see patients 5-6 hours/week. My practice focus is on the 15-25 year old age group. I like working with these young people as they sit in the middle of one of the most active periods of brain (particularly prefrontal) development during which I believe we can most impact and manage emerging illnesses. I do not believe it is an accident that many of psychiatry's major condition sbegin during this critical developmental period. Consequently, I would love to attend symposia in Toronto that can teach me basic neuroscience translated into clinical thinking to help me better manage my patients. As noted by Ned, symposia are due October 16 (a historically very important day 53 years ago this year), so please start talking with colleagues now to put together the best discussion groups possible to address this year's important theme.  I look forward to increasing my ability to care for my patients next May!


Best Wishes,

Steve Strakowski, MD

SOBP President Elect

Senior Vice President, Strategy & Transformation, UC Health

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Psychology and BME, University of Cincinnati


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed in these editorials are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, its officers, or members. 
2015 Meeting Announcement
May 14-16, 2015
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
Toronto, Ontario - Canada

The highlight of the year for our Society is our annual meeting, at which exciting scientific developments across the wide range of interests represented by the Society are presented. I am very pleased to report that Dr. Amit Etkin, a translational neuroscientist and psychiatrist from Stanford University, has agreed to serve as the Chair of the Program Committee for next year's meeting, which will be held in Toronto, Canada. Together with the Program Committee, we have established the theme for next year's meeting, which we are very excited about: "Stress, Emotion, Neurodevelopment and Psychopathology."

At the heart of biological psychiatry research is the model of translation, bi-directionally between basic research and clinical applications integrating in vitro, animal model, and human research approaches.  We are fortunate to have an excellent group of speakers for next year's plenary sessions.  While always thinking about how to more rapidly translate basic research findings to the clinic, the speakers for next year's plenary sessions have been grouped into sessions that will focus on new findings and translational opportunities in the areas of: 1) fear and anxiety, 2) stress, and 3) neurodevelopment.  We look forward to hearing from these world-class scientists about new developments in their fields as well as new ideas about how to leverage these findings to better understand and treat psychopathology.   Our hope is that these presentations will serve as teaching examples for all of us and our community reinforcing the importance of biological psychiatry research at a time in which the need for new ways to diagnose and treat mental illnesses has never been as acute, and the ability to carry out science can be challenging.

We look forward to a very stimulating and interactive meeting next year with your participation complemented with our excellent cadre of plenary speakers I am excited and very grateful that all our plenary speakers have confirmed their attendance and enthusiasm for our them: "Stress, Emotion, Neurodevelopment and Psychopathology."

The three plenary sessions will be organized as follows:

 Thursday May 14: Fear and Anxiety

-          Joeseph LeDoux (New York University)

-          Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University)

-          Kerry Ressler (Emory University)

-          Barbara Rothbaum (Emory University)

Friday May 15: Stress

-          Bruce McEwen (Rockefeller University)

-          George Koob (NIAAA)

-          Elisabeth Binder (Emory University/Max Planck Institute)

-          Alan Schatzberg (Stanford University)

Saturday May 16: Neurodevelopment

-          Fred "Rusty" Gage (Salk Institute)

-          Huda Akil (University of Michican)

-          Francis Lee (Cornell University)

-          Daniel Weinberger (Leiber Institute)

Now is also the time for all of you to start planning your symposia submissions. While the plenaries provide a foundation for the theme and spirit of the meeting, it is the symposia, with your participation, that explores individual topics in greater detail allows our attendees to join in with critical scientific discourse.  Amit and I are committed to ensuring that our symposia represent many interests across the field and that we have broad participation from membership and attendees.  Year after year attendees report that the quality and breadth of the symposia are a prime reason for attending the meeting, and we expect next year will be no different. To maximize the chance for success of your symposium submission, please note the guidelines on the submission website. Amit, the Program Committee, and I are eager for your submissions and devoted to ensuring that we have a very high quality meeting. Symposium proposals are due on October 16, with individual abstracts due a week later (see


We are very excited for next year's meeting, and encourage your attendance and participation in planning symposia, oral and poster submissions!


Ned H. Kalin, MD - President

Amit Etkin, MD, PhD - Chair, Scientific Program Committee

Important Dates:
August 1, 2014 - Travel fellowship and other awards opens
September 1, 2014 - Call for abstracts opens
October 16, 2014 - Symposium proposals due
October 23, 2014 - Symposium abstracts due
October 1, 2014 - Award applications close
December 12, 2014 - Oral and poster abstracts due
January 12, 2015 - Hotel reservations and meeting registration opens
February 1, 2015 - Last day to apply for membership to receive reduced registration fee 
February 13, 2015 - Late breaking abstracts opens
March 13, 2015 - Late breaking abstracts due
April 30, 2015 - Last day to register
May 14-16, 2015 - Meeting
2014 Meeting Recap - Part 2

As part of a new venture, we launched a 'roving reporter' function at the 2014 meeting to provide highlights from specific sessions. Kristina Denisova, PhD and Jie Liu, PhD, both from Columbia U., served in this role for us.   The July newsletter contained Part 1 of their reports.  Today, we share with you the final reports.  I hope you sense from these young scientists their enthusiasm that was generated by meeting with senior people within SOBP. Enjoy their reports, please send feedback for this function and thank you for your participation in SOBP.  


Brain Mechanisms of Atypical Development: Implications for Biomarkers / Two Autism Symposiums

By Kristina Denisova, PhD, Columbia University


NIMH's recent call to action that aims to shift research innovation and translation towards understanding fundamental mechanisms of disease (i.e., and not solely focus on mechanisms of intervention) was echoed at the brain systems level in two 2014 SOBP symposia on neurodevelopmental disorders. In "Towards Brain-based biomarkers of autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" investigators presented studies on the role that brain imaging may play in both early detection and characterization of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Rajesh Kana, PhD presented several lines of evidence for altered brain environment in autism. Dr. Kana found aberrant neurochemical (proton spectroscopy; 1H-MRS), structural connectivity (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI), and functional (fMRI) indices in the same sample of individuals with autism, in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region supporting diverse task demands. Lucina Q. Uddin, PhD presented compelling work on salience network-based classification of ASD (using intrinsic functional connectivity methods), with classifier's performance validated in an independent sample of children with ASD. In "Pioneering Frontiers in Functional Brain Imaging for Psychiatry", researchers highlighted in-vivo techniques to examine modulation of brain circuits and early typical and atypical development. Adriana Di Martino, MD used resting-state fMRI during natural sleep to "stratify the heterogeneity of autism" in young children based on their verbal proficiency. Taken together, these approaches highlight the fact that autism is likely a systems-level disorder, entailing important implications for development of more targeted brain-based biomarkers in autism.


Career Development / Young Researchers Roundtables

By Kristina Denisova, PhD, Columbia University


If you are a young investigator, the Career Development Roundtables of the Junior Investigator (JI) Program were a must-do at the Annual SOBP 2014 Meeting. The roundtables during the early morning session provided a lively opportunity to hear critical "tidbits" (and receive feedback on any specific questions) regarding pressing issues facing young investigators, including NIH funding, work-life balance, and getting involved in scientific societies. Other roundtables included choosing between industry and academia, and negotiating your start-up package. Though arguably not as important as one's research per se, we learned that this type of knowledge and these skills facilitate successful transition of a graduate or post-graduate fellow into a faculty position in the currently tough funding climate, as institutions will compete for candidates who secured federal funding of some sort. Specific advice from top experts was abundant: from faculty at renowned research institutions, intramural NIH research centers, as well as from NIMH staff. Take the time to get to know your program officer (PO) at the NIH institute that may be interested in your project proposal (e.g., NIDA or NIMH). Your PO is your friend during the application process and he or she will be glad to field questions about the proposal, provide feedback on whether it is in the area of high priority for the institute and may even be available to read your Specific Aims section. At scientific society meetings and conferences, look out also for collaborative possibilities with other investigators who work in a different, but complementary areas of interest; this interaction may provide fertile ground for possible future joint grant proposals. Ultimately life/work balance issues will come up during your academic tenure. Grants may partially support your research (as well as your salary), but equally important will be skills that you may want to develop and contribute, in addition to research, such as teaching or clinical work. Finally, you are already in a great situation if you are ready to negotiate your employment terms (congratulations!).  You will be in an even better position if you've previously secured independent funding for the type of research you'd like to do-whether from federal or private sources. A final point is that it will probably take multiple rejections of variants of your grant proposal before it is reviewed favorably; however, as this seems to be a rather common experience even among the most elite researchers, you're in good company. Good luck!

Mentorship Committee Update

Stem Cells: The Next Generation

Carolyn Drazinic, Chair, SOBP Mentorship Committee


The first year of the Mentorship Committee got off to a terrific start, with a lot of enthusiasm and a record number of young mentees seeking connections with volunteer mentors who are members of the SOBP. 70 mentees were matched with 70 mentors, and this made for a huge number of excited people who connected during the day of the President's Reception  night in New York and continued to connect throughout the SOBP conference in New York this past May.


With 133 of our SOBP members volunteering to be mentors, we had a 2 to 1 ratio of mentors to mentees. The message was clear:  we can invite many more people to SOBP to participate, learn, and be mentored at our annual meetings. This level of participation might even lead to a large number of young, budding biological psychiatrists joining our Society. Mentees wrote positive praise about the whole mentorship experience at the meeting.  Several mentees commented in the post-meeting survey that the SOBP was the most intellectually stimulating and collegial meetings they ever attended, and that the meeting helped them develop mentorship relationships that will help them in their future careers.


The Mentee Class of 2014 was made up of SOBP Travel Fellowship and Chairman's Choice awardees in addition to the NIH Brain Campers.  For 2015, we will have all of those groups of travel awardees. However, we will also be needing mentors for two new programs being implemented for 2015:  10 young medical student scholar awards who are undifferentiated stem cells to be gently prodded into the neuronal differentiation pathway, and 10 residency program directors, who will be reprogrammed to know and love biological psychiatry, if they did not know and love it already.


So when you receive the invitation and mentor survey in December 2015, get involved, and volunteer to become part of the SOBP mentor community. Tell us about what you like to talk about, what you like to teach, and any ideas you have for expanding our mentorship program to make it even better next year. If you know bright med students, residents, junior investigators, or others, encourage them to apply now for these travel awards, then introduce them to your SOBP colleagues when they come to the annual meeting. 

On behalf of the Mentorship Committee, many thanks to all Society members who officially volunteered to be mentors, and to those who served as mentors unofficially at our Annual Meeting. Many thanks to the co-chair Kristen Cadenhead, all the committee members, and to Mimi and Maggie, who keep us well organized. If you have an interest in joining our committee in the future, please email us at [email protected].


Let's transfect our enthusiasm for biological psychiatry into the next generation!

Other Meetings of Interest

Bench to Bedside & Back to Bench:  Translational Bridges in Mood & Addiction

September 4-6, 2014

Rochester, Minnesota

September 30, 2014
New York Academy of Sciences, New York City

October 12-16, 2014
Copenhagen, Denmark

December 7-11, 2014
Phoenix, Arizona 

January 24-29, 2015
Big Sky, Montana

March 25-28, 2015
Lake Buena Vista, Florida

March 28 - April 1, 2015
The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs, Colorado

June 3-6, 2015
Toronto, Ontario Canada
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SOBP's Career Center connects our members with employment opportunities and employers with the best professionals within our membership. Employment opportunities range from post-doc positions, faculty positions, neuroscience jobs in industry and alternative careers.
Visit SOBP's Career Center  today to explore employment opportunities.  Post an anonymous resume for employers or recruiters to view.
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Society of Biological Psychiatry Business Office
4500 San Pablo Rd - Birdsall 310
Jacksonville, FL 32224
904-953-2842 Office
904-953-7117 Fax
Biological Psychiatry Editorial Office
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
6363 Forest Park Rd., Suite 651 
Dallas, TX 75235-5435 
214-648-0880 Office 
214-648-0881 Fax
Society of Biological Psychiatry Newsletter Editorial Staff 

Stephen M. Strakowski, MD, Editor

Editorial Board
Helen Mayberg, MD
William B. Lawson, MD, PhD, DLFAPA 
Alan H. Young, MD, PhD 
Caleb M. Adler, MD

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