Current treatments for mood disorders only suppress symptoms without addressing the underlying disease, and there are no known cures. The drugs Rebecca Brachman is developing would be the first to prevent psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
Brachman completed her PhD at Columbia University, prior to which she was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where she discovered that immune cells carry a memory of psychological stress and that white blood cells can act as antidepressants and resilience-enhancers. Brachman's research has been featured in The Atlantic, WIRED and Business Insider, and her work was recently described by Dr. George Slavich on NPR as a "moonshot project that is very much needed in the mental health arena."
In addition to conducting ongoing research at Columbia, Brachman is an NYCEDC Entrepreneurship Lab Fellow and cofounder of Paravax -- a biotech startup developing vaccine-like prophylactic drugs ("paravaccines") -- along with her scientific collaborator, Christine Ann Denny. She is also working on a non-profit venture to repurpose existing generic drugs for use as prophylactics, and previously served as the Interim Program Director for Outreach at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University.
Brachman is also a playwright and screenwriter. She holds Bachelor's degrees in both neuroscience and creative wWriting, and she is currently working on a tech-focused writing project with her long-time writing partner, Sean Calder ("Grimm," "Damages," "ER"). She served as the director of NeuWrite, a national network of science-writing groups that fosters ongoing collaboration between scientists, writers and artists, and she has been featured as a storyteller at The Story Collider.
(Photo: Kenneth Willardt)