Podcast: Kafui Dzirasa, PhD, MD: The Neuroscience of Mental Health

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Welcome to the Inscopix podcast series! Here we talk about the latest in neuroscience and neurotechnology with leaders in the field. I’m your host Dr. Jami Milton, and I’m super honored to have interviewed Dr. Kafui Dzirasa. He’s an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering at the Duke University School of Medicine. He works at the intersection of engineering, neuroscience, and psychiatry, putting him in a unique position to deepen our understanding and treatment of mental health. Among his many awards, Kaf was among 106 researchers in 2016 to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama. He’s also a One Mind Rising Star. He’s a super engaging speaker, and has given a TEDMED talk you can find here.

Kaf and I covered very interesting scientific and personal ground in our podcast which focused a lot on mental health and depression. I’ve listed the topics below.

Happy Listening!



00:00 Introduction

01:11 Kaf’s Laboratory for Psychiatric Neuroengineering

01:55 Kaf’s thoughts and work on the neural circuits of depression

04:55 Biggest gaps in our understanding of depression

06:25 Kaf’s recent study on neural signatures of risk for depression

10:54 Machine learning in assessing depression risk in mice

13:00 Childhood stress as a cause for depression

14:37 Interventions for treating depression and the impact of stress on the brain

20:56 The next phase of the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative

23:53 Biggest challenges affecting neuroscience – Q from Joyce Wang on Twitter

25:13 Kaf’s memoir, childhood and what motivates him to study mental health!

30:00 Kaf’s perspective on fostering diversity in STEM

32:16 Kaf’s biggest challenge he’s had to overcome – Q from Caitlin Vander Weele on Twitter

33:04 Kaf’s answer to the question about scientific heroes

34:07 Neuroscience’s role in dissolving stigma around mental illness

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