It is my pleasure to welcome Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, to the McLean community. Dr. Ressler will assume the roles of Chief Scientific Officer and Chief of the Depression and Anxiety Disorders Division, effective August 1, 2015. He will also hold the Patricia and James Poitras Endowed Chair in Psychiatry at McLean Hospital, thanks to a generous gift from longtime hospital supporters Patricia and James Poitras.
As McLean’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Ressler will oversee the hospital’s comprehensive research enterprise, enhancing the breadth and depth of the scientific portfolio, promoting research collaborations, and advancing a vision for improved lab facilities. As McLean’s inaugural Chief of the Depression and Anxiety Disorders Division, he will work to improve communication across clinical operations, while working with researchers with an interest in depression and anxiety to identify greater opportunities to collaborate with their colleagues throughout the hospital and across translational and clinical research programs. A formal Division launch event will be planned for the fall.
Dr. Ressler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, comes to Belmont from the Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes Research Center in Atlanta where, since 2001, he has been investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of fear learning and the process of extinction of fear. The primary objective of his work is to use the power of molecular genetics to understand the molecular biology, neural circuitry and behavioral biology of fear and recovery from fear in animal models and human patients.
Also a practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Ressler’s primary interest is in translational and clinical research on fear-related psychiatric disorders, with a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His hope is that understanding how fear works in the mammalian brain in a laboratory setting will someday translate into improved treatment and prevention for disorders such as PTSD, phobias, panic and other anxiety disorders.
In addition to Dr. Ressler’s clinical and research work, his academic qualifications are broad, numerous and well recognized. He has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, including a number of articles in high-profile journals including Nature, Cell, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Ressler is President-Elect of the Society for Biological Psychiatry and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Mental Health. He has served on numerous NIH study sections and serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Biological Psychiatry and Neuropsychopharmacology, and Depression and Anxiety.
Dr. Ressler holds a degree in molecular biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency training at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. As a faculty member at Emory, he was previously Interim Director of the Emory Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), a member of the Executive Committee of the Emory Neuroscience Graduate Program, and Director of the Emory Psychiatry Residency Research Program.
As we welcome Dr. Ressler, I would also like to take a moment to thank Joseph Coyle, MD, for serving as our first CSO. His leadership has provided critical support and mentorship for young researchers and has helped us to recruit and retain future generations of leaders in the field. Although he is stepping down as CSO, Dr. Coyle will continue to be an active member of our research community, leading the Molecular Psychiatry Research Laboratory and holding the Eben S. Draper Chair in Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ressler to McLean and thanking Dr. Coyle for his leadership within our research community. A welcome reception for Dr. Ressler will be planned for this fall.
Scott L. Rauch, MD
Dr. Rauch's letter was originally published in the August 3rd edition of the McLean News