Lisa Monteggia of Vanderbilt University Shares the Anna-Monika Prize for Research on Depressive Disorders

Lisa Monteggia, Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and professor of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is sharing the Anna-Monika Prize from the Düsseldorf, Germany-based Anna Monika Foundation for research in neurobiology and treatment of depressive disorders. Dr. Monteggia is sharing the prize with her Vanderbilt colleague Ege Kavalali, chair of the department of pharmacology and the William Stokes Professor of Experimental Therapeutics.

The two scholars are being honored for their work on rapid mechanisms of action of ketamine as an antidepressant. Ketamine has been gaining interest over the past several years as a fast-acting antidepressant. Past research shows that ketamine has antidepressant effects, especially for those who have treatment-resistant depression. Monteggia and Kavalali identified a brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor are required in the hippocampus for ketamine to produce antidepressant effects. They also found that ketamine strengthens connections between synapses in the hippocampus, which is thought to contribute to the rapid nature of its antidepressant effects.

“It is a great honor to receive the Anna-Monika Prize,” Professor Monteggia said. “I am delighted that our long-standing collaboration with Dr. Kavalali was recognized for this prestigious research achievement in the field of depression.”

Dr. Monteggia holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Chicago Medical School of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the department of psychiatry of the Yale School of Medicine. Professor Monteggia was a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center before joining the Vanderbilt University faculty in 2018.

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