McLean’s President Announces New Chief Scientific Officer

Posted: August 18th, 2015


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

Leadership Changes in the Division of Basic Neuroscience

Posted: August 10th, 2015

Left: Dr. William Carlezon Ph.D.
Right: Dr. Christopher Cowan Ph.D.

In July 2015 Dr. Joseph Coyle, M.D., stepped down from the role of Chief of the Division of Basic Neuroscience, and has been succeeded by Dr. William Carlezon, Ph.D. The Division of Basic Neuroscience, established in 2011, provides crucial support and mentorship to young scientists as well as providing an environment to establish leaders in psychiatric research. The Division also fosters collaboration between researchers at McLean and other research institutions. Dr. Carlezon will continue the exceptional work being done within the Department prioritizing teamwork and efficiency, with specific plans to streamline the grant application process moving forward.

“While Dr. Coyle is leaving big shoes to fill, I can think of no one better suited to take the helm than Dr. Carlezon, who has served as Assistant Chief of the Division for the past 17 months,” remarked McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD. “Dr. Carlezon is widely respected for his influential body of work and will provide strong leadership as he sets priorities for distribution of divisional resources and facilitates broader collaborations and partnerships among investigators within and beyond McLean. Through his energy, enthusiasm and generative style, Dr. Carlezon is poised to elevate and enhance the work being conducted within McLean’s Division of Basic Neuroscience.”

Dr. Christopher Cowan, Director of the Integrative Neurobiology Laboratory, has been appointed to the new role of Director of Education for the Division of Basic Neuroscience. As the Director of Education, Dr. Cowan will initiate and supervisor new trainings and educational opportunities within the Division of Basic Neuroscience. Dr. Cowan aims to create interactive training modules for the general neuroscience community at McLean, and to generate more funding opportunities for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.

“While a big part of this role involves facilitating research training opportunities at McLean, another important aspect is the implementation of a long-range plan for the Basic Neuroscience Division,” said Dr. Cowan. “A strong focus on innovative training opportunities will enable us to grow and maintain our position as a leading institution for mental health basic research and to ensure that our trainees are equipped to be the future leaders in this exciting field of research.”

See original article in the July 14th issue of McLean News