New NIMH Director Named | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

New NIMH Director Named

Posted on September 11, 2002

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is pleased to welcome the selection of Thomas Insel, M.D. of Emory University in Atlanta as the new Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Dr. Insel is currently Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Emory and is expected to begin his tenure at NIMH in November. As a member of the search committee that recommended him, I am familiar with his qualifications and excited about the renewed leadership he will bring to scientific research into the causes and treatment of severe mental illness. NAMI looks forward to working him.

Dr. Insel joined NIMH in 1979 as a clinical associate in its Clinical Neuropharmacology Branch and later held several administrative and leadership posts. Before moving to Emory University in 1994, he conducted research in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), initiating some of the first treatment trials for OCD using serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In 1984, Dr. Insel launched a research program in social neuroscience, focusing on the neurobiology of complex social behaviors in animals. Using molecular, cellular, and pharmacological approaches, Dr. Insel focused on the link between neuropeptides, oxytocin and vasopressin, in behavior and aggression.

He is a graduate of Boston University's College of Liberal Arts and its Medical School. He did his internship at Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and his residency at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California San Francisco.

As Professor of Psychiatry in Emory's School of Medicine, Dr. Insel has been Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, where he built one of the nation's leading HIV vaccine research programs. He also has served as founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, a science and technology center, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Center has developed an interdisciplinary consortium for research and education at eight Atlanta colleges and universities. Dr. Insel's research includes the role of oxytocin in social attachment and behavior, and under an NIMH grant, development of an autism research center.

He has served on 10 professional editorial boards and is a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He has received awards from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), the Society for Biological Psychiatry, and the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS).

We look forward to supporting his vision and commitment in working together to invest in greater research to improve the lives of people challenged by mental illnesses, and to achieve greater, readier recoveries.


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