ATLANTA— Debra Bangasser, an international expert on the mechanisms underlying stress-induced pathology, has been appointed as the new associate director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) at Georgia State University, and will be the university’s first Distinguished Investigator with the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA).
Bangasser, who joins the university on Sept 1, will also serve as Professor of Neuroscience in the Neuroscience Institute (NI).
“We welcome Debra Bangasser as a major contributor to the basic and translational research community in Georgia and look forward to her efforts to build new collaborative projects across units within Georgia State as well as across other institutions in the region,” said Tim Denning, vice president of Research and Economic Development for Georgia State.
Bangasser’s research seeks to improve the understanding of the basic neuroscience mechanisms underlying stress in males and females and to foster the development of therapeutics that work well across sex. This research is fundamental because of the dramatic differences observed in many stress-related disorders, and the increasing evidence that existing therapies do not work equally well in men and women.
GRA Distinguished Investigators are recruited to Georgia’s research universities to advance exploration in a wide range of fields. The program provides seed funding and guidance to help university researchers move promising discoveries to the marketplace.
“We are fortunate to have recruited Dr. Bangasser to join the ranks of our cadre of rising stars in the GRA Distinguished Investigator Program,” said Susan Shows, president of the Georgia Research Alliance. “She has the proven ability to be an innovator in both basic and translational neuroscience research and she will be a strong leader in promoting collaborative and interdisciplinary research through her position in the CBN.”
Bangasser will play a leadership role in the interdisciplinary group of faculty and students that form the CBN. The CBN was established with funding from National Science Foundation (NSF) and from the GRA to conduct collaborative research, training and community outreach. In more than 20 years conducting research, the CBN has pioneered new approaches to “team” science with the development of research “collaboratories” to investigate how social factors can shape the structure and function of the brain.
She will also play a central role in the recently funded RISE initiative called the CBN Stress and Trauma Consortium. This interdisciplinary consortium will involve faculty, staff and students from different departments and colleges at Georgia State, as well as faculty from Grady Hospital and Emory University.
“Dr. Bangasser brings a strong commitment to excellence in research and training and a dedication to diversity” said Elliott Albers, director of CBN and Regents’ Professor of Neuroscience. “Her research focus on the neurobiology of stress and the role of the stress neuropeptide, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) will complement and expand the CBN research portfolio. Her work demonstrating that CRF helps orchestrate the body’s response to stress has tremendous translational importance because high levels of CRF are found in people with stress-related disorders, such as major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.”
Bangasser has been the director of the College of Liberal Arts Program in Neuroscience Systems, Behavior and Plasticity at Temple University, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and in the Center for Substance Abuse at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
Bangasser has received numerous prestigious awards from a variety of scientific organizations including the Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association and The Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience. Her work has also been recognized by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Gordon Research Conferences, the Workshop on Steroid Hormones and Brain Function, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a fellow of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, and she has served on the editorial board of six top biomedical journals.
Daniel N. Cox, director of the Neuroscience Institute and the university-wide Brains & Behavior area of focus also welcomed the new appointment.
“Dr. Bangasser’s vigorous research program in the neurobiology of stress-induced pathologies significantly extends our resident research expertise and is highly synergistic with our core strengths in behavioral, cellular, molecular and systems neuroscience,” Cox said. “Dr. Bangasser’s record of excellence in teaching and mentoring provides a robust foundation for further advancing our dual missions of research and training in preparing the next generation of neuroscientists.”
Following a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship, Bangasser received a five-year NIH grant “Pathway to Independence” that funded her transition from postdoctoral work to becoming an independent investigator at Temple University. This was immediately followed by a very prestigious five-year CAREER Award from NSF. She is currently the primary investigator on a large NSF grant, two NIH R01 and two NIH R21 grants. The impact of her publications is dramatically increasing each year with the number of citations of her work more than doubling in the last five years. She has also been recognized for her outstanding mentoring and instruction by the Presidential Faculty Teaching Award from Temple University in 2020.
The Georgia Research Alliance is a public-private partnership that supports the recruitment of outstanding scientists to Georgia universities, stimulating new discoveries and economic growth since 1990.