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Scott M. Thompson

Scott is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. After receiving a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, Scott obtained a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Stanford University in 1986. He then spent nearly 10 years on the faculty of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, at the Brain Research Institute, before coming to Maryland in 1998.

Scott’s research is focused on understanding what goes wrong in the brain in patients suffering from depression and using that knowledge to identify novel therapeutic strategies for treatment.

Stressful life events are a key risk factor for depressive disorders. His laboratory uses chronic stress to produce changes in the behavior of rats and mice that are analogous to the behavioral symptoms of human depression, such as anhedonia. This research has revealed that cells in parts of the brain that respond to rewarding stimuli, do not communicate effectively after chronic stress, and that all known antidepressant drugs restore normal communication in these same brain regions. These findings led to the identification of a novel class of compounds that produce a rapid relief of symptoms of depression in rodents. He has recently founded a company, dedicated to bringing these compounds from the laboratory to the clinic.

As Chair, he leads a department of 20 tenure-track faculty members studying the brain, heart, muscle, and kidney. As a mentor, he has trained 16 Ph.D. students and 10 postdoctoral Fellows.

Scott lives in an 1870’s rowhouse overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor with his wife, neuroscientist Tracy L. Bale. They share three young adult children, none of whom attended Cornell, despite Scott’s best efforts. He returns to the Finger Lakes every summer to a cottage his family owns on Keuka Lake.