The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) has named Tracy L. Bale, Ph.D. as one of two winners of the 2016 Daniel H. Efron Research Award. Dr. Bale is a Professor of Neuroscience in Biomedical Sciences and in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. The Efron Research Award, which is being presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the ACNP in Hollywood, Florida in recognition of outstanding basic research contributions to neuropsychopharmacology. The recognized contributions may be preclinical or work that emphasizes the interface between basic and clinical research. The selection of the awardee is based on the quality of the contributions and their impact in advancing neuropsychopharmacology.
Dr. Bale's major contribution to the field of Neuropsychopharmacology has been in deciphering the critical genes, circuits, and epigenetic mechanisms contributing to stress dysregulation as a risk factor in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism, affective disorders and obesity. Using mouse models, she has initiated investigations into the timing and sex specificity of early life events promoting disease susceptibility, the maturation of the brain during key periods of development, and the epigenetic mechanisms underlying enduring effects following stress exposure. Her recent innovative study establishing how paternal stress changes offspring brain development via novel epigenetic marks in the sperm received recognition for its comprehensive mechanistic examination and translational potential (Rodgers, Morgan, Leu, Bale 2015 PNAS). In addition, in recent studies done in collaboration with Dr. Neill Epperson's group in Psychiatry, the Bale lab developed a mouse model of female pubertal adversity that revealed novel insight for neuropsychiatric disease risk specific to pregnancy (Morrison, Epperson, Sammel, Ewing, Podcasy, Hantsoo, Kim, Bale 2016 Biol Psychiatry). Dr. Bale is also the recipient of the 2012 Society for Women's Health Research Medtronic Prize honoring a scientist who has made a significant impact on sex differences research and serves as a role model for young investigators.
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ACNP, founded in 1961, is a professional organization of more than 1000 leading scientists, including four Nobel Laureates. The mission of ACNP is to further research and education in neuropsychopharmacology and related fields in the following ways: promoting the interaction of a broad range of scientific disciplines of brain and behavior in order to advance the understanding of prevention and treatment of disease of the nervous system including psychiatric, neurological, behavioral and addictive disorders; encouraging scientists to enter research careers in fields related to these disorders and their treatment; and ensuring the dissemination of relevant scientific advances.