Demystifying Medicine: Suicide and Depression in Time of COVID-19

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The Demystifying Medicine course series continues on April 13 on the topic of depression and suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic, with presenters Nora Volkow, M.D., and Carlos Zarate, M.D. 
 
The public lectures will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. exclusively on NIH VideoCast at https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=41579.  CME credit will be available.   
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought profound stress into our lives — from social isolation and hectic work schedules, to grief over the loss of those who have died from COVID-19 and the inability to fully gather together to mourn them.  Populations with underlying depression and addiction disorders are particularly vulnerable to self-harm during these trying times. 
 
While depression, suicide and COVID clearly are associated in terms of public health, are they also linked mechanistically, particularly in regard to neurobiology?  Are there genetic factors or biomarkers for susceptibility?  The April 13 presentations will address both public health and neurobiology aspects of this complex situation. 
 
Our first speaker, Dr. Volkow, is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  She is a leading authority on the disease of addiction.  She and her colleagues have recorded significant increases in many kinds of drug use since in onset of the pandemic in March 2020.  They have developed strategies to help curb such drug use as well as to help those already in recovery maintain their regimen.   
 
Our second speaker, Dr. Zarate, is chief of the Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch in the National Institute of Mental Health.  He has pioneered the use of ketamine to treat depression and reduce suicidal impulses.  His lab conducts proof-of-concept studies utilizing novel compounds and biomarkers with PET, fMRI, magnetoencephalography and polysomnography to identify potentially relevant drug targets and biosignatures of treatment response. 
 
Please tune in to hear from these two experts about one of the most pressing health concerns of our times and, as always, be prepared to be dazzled and demystified. 
 
The Demystifying Medicine course is held Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. from January through May.  All courses this season will be presented live, remote-only, via NIH VideoCast and then archived for future learning.  Please see https://demystifyingmedicine.od.nih.gov for the full schedule.   
 
Jointly sponsored by FAES and NIH, the Demystifying Medicine course aims to bridge exciting developments in medicine with advances in the basic biological and engineering sciences.  When possible, a live patient introduces the course topic by discussing their disease, followed by a physician scientist who describes clinical aspects of the disease including therapy and challenges, followed by bench scientist who describes what we know and don't know regarding mechanism.  The course is designed to excite as well as inform medical and Ph.D. students, fellows, basic and physician scientists, and program planners. 
 
All are welcome to attend these lectures.  Registrants who attend at least half of the 18 sessions and pass a computerized final exam will receive a certificate.  For more information, contact the Demystifying Medicine master of ceremonies, Dr. Irwin Arias, ariasi@mail.nih.gov
 
Sign language interpreters can be provided.  Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in these events should contact Kenny Williams, williajk@cc.nih.gov, or the Federal Relay, 800-877-8339. 
 

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