Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D., Announced as Inaugural Eisenberg Translational Research Award Winner

Debiec to study memory processing in depressed and suicidal youth receiving ECT

Jacek Debiec, assistant professor of psychiatry and U-M Depression Center member, was just awarded the inaugural Eisenberg Translational Research award. Dr. Debiec will study “Interference with Memory Reconsolidation Processes to Decrease Depressive Ruminations and Suicidality in Severely Depressed Youth Receiving Electroconvulsive Therapy.”

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a recommended treatment for severe and pharmacotherapy-resistant mood disorders. One of the major adverse effects of ECT, which significantly limits its use, is an associated overall memory impairment. However, recent research in neuroscience suggests that memory impairing effects of ECT may, at least in part, depend on the cognitive and emotional state of the patient prior to the ECT procedure.

“In this project, we propose to investigate the effects of a pre-ECT recall of depression-related and neutral cognitive and emotional states on the clinical outcome,” said Dr. Debiec. “Through combining a well-established psychiatric treatment method (ECT) with the cutting-edge neuroscience, this project has the potential to change the way we understand and treat severe, treatment-resistant mood disorders.”

Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D.

Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D.

“This study has the potential to uncover the causes of memory impairment during ECT treatment and to optimize ECT treatment for severe depressive symptoms,” said John Greden, M.D., executive director of the U-M Depression Center. “The more we know about this technology, the more effective it will be for our patients and their families. I am excited to see what Dr. Debiec is able to accomplish with this funding from our incredible donors.”

Dr. Debiec joined the U-M Department of Psychiatry in 2012 and his research has focused on early childhood trauma, stress, fear, anxiety, emotional learning and more. Dr. Debiec also serves as a Research Assistant Professor with the U-M Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (MBNI).

Dr. Debiec’s co-investigators on this project include Depression Center members Dr. Neera Ghaziuddin and Dr. Cheryl King. Ghaziuddin is an associate professor with the U-M Department of Psychiatry and King is a professor with the U-M Department of Psychiatry.

This $75,000 award supports the early launch stages of transformational research projects designed to develop personalized, precise treatments. The goal of the Eisenberg Translational Research award is to generate preliminary knowledge gains to transform diagnostic and treatment processes for depressions and/or bipolar illnesses.