Michael Friedlander and Warren Bickel featured in WDBJ7 special

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute brain science was featured in a local television special titled, “Stop the Stigma.” Focusing on mental health management in Virginia, the WDBJ7 program also looked to current research for future treatments. Featured in the special were two Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute professors who work to expand what we know about the brain and how to treat mental illnesses.

Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, studies the cellular processes that underlie learning in the brain.

“Those of us who are neuroscientists and doing brain research like to start off by having a very open mind about trying to understand what causes these disorders and not contribute causality to the person’s choice,” Friedlander said.

Warren Bickel, director of the institute’s Addiction Recovery Research Center, studies how the brains of people with addictions can be trained to cope with intense cravings, to make treatment more effective and long lasting. Mental illness and addiction are considered co-occurring disorders, since one often begets the other.

“I think we need to recognize that addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder, and it needs treatment that is enduring,” Bickel said.

Helen Mayberg, a psychiatry professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, was also featured in the special as a guest lecturer at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. She has found that deep brain stimulation in a specific part of the brain helps to significantly alleviate symptoms of depression.

As scientists learn more about how the brain communicates depression at a molecular level, they will be able to begin developing more effective treatment options.