FRANCINE M. BENES, MD, PHD
- McLean title(s): Director, Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience
Director, Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center
- Email: email@example.com
- Office Address: Mailman Research Center
- Bio: In 1967, Dr. Benes received her bachelor's degree from St. John's University in New York and in 1972, completed a Ph.D. in Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine. Between 1972 and 1975, she received postdoctoral training at the City of Hope National Medical Center in California where she used single cell neurochemistry to study GABA neurons. After returning to Yale in 1973, she studied the re-cycling of synaptic vesicles in the frog neuromuscular junction using a combination of microchemical analysis of choline acetyltansferase activity and quantitative studies of synaptic vesicles formation using the electron microscope. During this same period, she studied dendritic plasticity in the developing chick auditory system and was the first to demonstrate that primary branches of dendrites can undergo profound atrophy within 96 hours of deafferentation. In 1975, Dr. Benes began her medical training at Yale and after graduating in 1978, she completed a psychiatric residency at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Since 1982, Dr. Benes has devoted her career to the study of how brain circuitry is altered in schizophrenia and, more recently, bipolar disorder. She has used a combination of approaches, including single cell receptor binding activity, immunocytochemistry, in situ hybridization and cell and molecular strategies to study the ways in which the GABA system may be "mis-wired" within discrete portions of the limbic lobe. In 1992, she presented a novel circuitry model that postulated that excessive excitatory inputs to GABAergic interneurons may be play a central role in the dysregulation of intrinsic cortical circuitry in schizophrenia. Her work has demonstrated that connections of the basolateral amygdala with the anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus probably play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Most recently, Dr. Benes has used network association analyses to identify functional groups of genes that are involved in the regulation of the GABA cell phenotype in human postmortem hippocampus. Although both schizophrenics and bipolars show dysfunction of GABAergic interneurons, each disorder shows a completely different pattern of abnormal gene expression within this network of inter-related genes.
Dr. Benes is the William P. and Henry B. Test Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience and the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, both located at McLean Hospital. She has served on the Editorial Boards or been a Section Editor of many neuroscience and psychiatry journals (i.e. Biotechniques, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Development and Psychpathology, American Journal of Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology, Schizophrenia Research, Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Neuroscience.Net and Clinical Schizophrenia and Related Psychoses). She has also been invited to speak at many national and international meetings, including ones sponsored by the NIH, the World Health Organization, the College de France, the National Academy of Sciences, Cold Spring Harbor Research Institute and the Nobel Committee in Stockholm.
Dr. Benes has received many awards and honors including the Shervert S. Frazier Lifetime Achievement Award (1999), the William Silens Lifetime Achievement Award in Mentoring from Harvard Medical School, the Kempf Award for Research Mentoring from the American Psychiatric Association (2006), a MERIT Award from the NIMH (2002-2012) and the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research from NARSAD (2002). In 2004, Dr. Benes was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Benes, F.M., Berretta, S. GABAergic Interneurons: Implications for Understanding Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 2001; 25:1-27.
- Woo, W., Walsh, J., Benes, F.M. Density of glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 messenger RNA-containing neurons that express the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit NR2A in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry 2004: 61: 649-657.
- Buttner, E.A., Bhattacharyya, S., Walsh, J., Benes, F.M. DNA fragmentation is increased in non-GABAergic neurons in bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia Research 2007; 93: 33-41.
- Benes, F. M., Lim, B., Matzilevich, D., Walsh, J. P., Subburaju, S., Minns, M. Regulation of the GABA cell phenotype in hippocampus of schizophrenics and bipolars. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2007; 104 (24): 10164-101069.
- Cunningham, M., Bhattacharyya, S., Benes, F.M. Increasing interactions of amygdalar fibers with GABAergic neurons between birth and adulthood. Cerebral Cortex 2008; 18(7): 1529-1535.