by Herbert Pardes, M.D.
President, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council,
Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital,
As the President of the Foundation Scientific Council, I want to express my pride and gratitude as the Foundation celebrates its 25th Anniversary. It’s astounding to me that a set of conversations which began 25 years ago considering whether we would pay out the first $50,000 in NARSAD Grants has led to a program that has supported psychiatric research to the tune of close to $300 million for thousands of NARSAD Grants around the world. This investment has had a powerful influence on the psychiatric field and helped advance our understanding of and treatments for brain and behavior disorders.
I continue to volunteer my time as President of the Foundation Scientific Council because mental health has been an important part of my career and life. I became fascinated with psychiatry in my college and medical school days. I’ve done virtually every kind of psychiatry – individual, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospital care, pharmacotherapy, outpatient care, and adolescent inpatient care over the years. I feel deeply troubled by families whose lives are made miserable by these illnesses and I want to make them better. All of us, myself included, have had people in our families who have had psychiatric illness; anything we can do to eliminate the likelihood or get them better treatments represents a wonderful mission.
Can we imagine seeing a world without mental illness in the very near future? That seems like quite a stretch. But to say that’s our ultimate aim, that we want to get rid of illnesses that affect so many people, that’s right on target. We certainly have made significant progress in treating mental illness in comparison to 100 years ago, when there was little if any treatment – and it’s getting demonstrably better step by step. It excites me to think of what will come from research in the next 25 years, and how it will change the world.