Lee named a 2024 Deeda Blair Research Initiative award recipient

Andrew Moses Lee, MD, PhD

After completing his medical school training, doctoral studies in neurosciences, and psychiatry residency at UCSF, psychiatrist and clinical researcher Andrew Moses Lee, MD, PhD joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty in 2020.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) has named UC San Francisco physician-scientist Andrew Moses Lee, MD, PhD as one of three new recipients of awards given by the Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain. He will receive $200,000 to continue his research on the spatiotemporal characterization of the role of the brain’s default mode network (DMN) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.

Neuropsychiatric disorders are increasingly understood to reflect dysfunction in distributed brain networks, including the DMN, which has been implicated in the development of OCD and depression. Lee’s research will further explore this area to investigate whether the spatiotemporal dynamics of the DMN can serve as potential biomarkers for OCD/depressive symptoms and as a therapeutic target for neuromodulation treatments for these disorders.

Lee is an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. He is also the director of the UCSF OCD Program and the Networks, Neuroscience, and Neuromodulation (N3) Lab, which focuses on the use of non-invasive methods of neuromodulation—such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and low-intensity focused ultrasound—in addition to deep brain stimulation to address psychiatric and neurological conditions.

An alum of the UCSF Psychiatry Research Resident Training Program (RRTP), Lee's work has also been recognized with a 2020 Brain and Brain Research Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator grant and a 2018 NIMH Outstanding Resident Award.

Initiative strives to improve the diagnosis and treatment of severe mental illness

“This program is designed to support early career physician scientists who have demonstrated exceptional promise, discipline, and strong commitment to a specific field of mental health and at the same time curiosity and imagination,” said Mrs. William McCormick Blair, Jr., a member of the FNIH Board of Directors. “Their work is critical as we face a global mental health crisis. With rising rates of depression, hopelessness, and suicidality, especially among youth, we need to support creative scientists to develop new solutions.”

The goal of the FNIH-administered program is to discover new therapeutic targets and methods to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders, potentially transforming current approaches to severe mental illness and creating hope for millions of people worldwide.

Applications for the awards were first peer reviewed by principal investigators at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The final selection was made by a committee of advisors comprised of leaders from major scientific institutions, clinical practice, and industry.

Thomas Insel, MD, chair of the initiative’s selection committee and former director of the NIMH, remarked, “Now is the ideal time for major new investments to harness the tools of biology, behavioral science, and artificial intelligence to address the needs of people with serious mental illness.”

Blair thanked the many donors who have joined her to have an impact on mental illness. “I have asked for help with funding this program and received outstanding, generous support from wonderful friends and also from others I have not known before who learned about this initiative. I am deeply, deeply grateful.”

Joining Lee as recipients of this year's awards were Ryan Ash, MD, PhD, of Stanford University and Kartik Pattabirman, MD, PhD, of Yale University. To learn more about the Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain, visit the FNIH website.

Further coverage

About the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) builds public-private partnerships that connect leading biomedical scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with their counterparts in life sciences companies, academia, patient organizations, foundations, and regulatory agencies (including the Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency). Through team science, the FNIH solves complex health challenges and accelerates breakthroughs for patients, regardless of who they are or what health threats they face. The FNIH contributes to the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and potential cures; advances global health and equity in care; and celebrates and helps train the next generations of scientists. Established by Congress in 1990 to support the mission of the NIH, the FNIH is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information about the FNIH, please visit fnih.org.

About UCSF Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences conducts its clinical, educational, and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including the UCSF Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry BuildingUCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital; UCSF Medical Centers at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay, and Mount Zion; UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland; Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center; the San Francisco VA Health Care System; UCSF Fresno; and numerous community-based sites around the San Francisco Bay Area.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments—Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Neurology, and Neurological Surgery—that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area.