The Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Laboratory for the Study of Human Resilience at Mount Sinai
The Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Laboratory for the Study of Human Resilience is an integral part of Mount Sinai’s Depression and Anxiety Center for Discovery and Treatment, enabling promising research in areas such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the leadership of Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine and President for Academic Affairs, and James W. Murrough, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, the Ehrenkranz Laboratory is pursuing innovative avenues of discovery. Our research team is working to understand what constitutes human biological and psychological resilience—what determines how individuals will respond in the face of stress or adversity—and how to translate this understanding into more effective therapies to improve patient outcomes. From psychotherapy techniques to pharmaceutical strategies and device-based therapies, the Ehrenkranz Laboratory is home to pioneering work that will shape the future of the field. Over the past four years, the Laboratory has made meaningful strides, identifying new targets for treatments and testing the efficacy of therapeutic interventions.
A significant element of our research program centers on identifying potential targets for drug discovery efforts. As we enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of depression and resilience, we are better positioned to determine new ways of disrupting or counteracting those systems. The team is also developing innovative therapeutic approaches to make treatments more accessible and effective, and to alleviate common barriers or challenges.
Among the team’s current areas of research is the therapeutic potential of Neuropeptide Y (NPY), a key molecule found in the brain that mediates anxiety and fear. Mount Sinai conducted the first in-human study of intranasal NPY in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Building on these findings, the team is designing additional studies to understand how the drug may work and how it can be optimized for the best patient outcomes.
Ketamine, which acts as a selective NMDA receptor antagonist, has also shown tremendous promise as a therapeutic agent for treating depression, and more recently in PTSD. Broadly considered one of the most important developments in the field of depression research, ketamine can trigger a rapid, robust antidepressant effect in patients. The Ehrenkranz Laboratory is engaged in several studies to better understand how ketamine works in patients and how to maximize its clinical benefit.
Another promising avenue is an existing anticonvulsant drug called ezogabine. Researchers at Mount Sinai previously studied the impact of ezogabine on mice, finding that the drug was successful in treating depression-like symptoms by increasing the natural resilience mechanisms in animals. Based on those findings, Dr. Murrough and his team tested the drug’s efficacy in treating depression in humans for the first time.