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American Psychological Association Honors Dr. Michael Davis for Contributions to the Study of Behavioral Neuroscience

August 11, 2006

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Lisa Newbern, 404-727-7709,

ATLANTA (Aug. 11, 2006) – Michael Davis, PhD, a leading neuroscientist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University, has been selected as a recipient of the 2006 American Psychological Association (APA) Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. Davis, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and a Center for Behavioral Neuroscience researcher, receives this honor in recognition of his contributions to the field of behavioral neuroscience, specifically the neurobiology of fear and its inhibition. The award will be presented today at the APA Convention in New Orleans, where Davis will deliver the 2006 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award address.

“It is an extraordinary honor to receive the 2006 APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award and to be on a list with so many of my heroes in experimental psychology and neuroscience,” said Davis. “I am deeply appreciative to the American Psychological Association and to all those who have given me so much support during my career, as well as the generous support I receive from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.”

In addition to delivering the award address, Davis, who studies the physiological bases of learning and memory and the areas of the brain involved in fear, anxiety and stress, also is presenting research on using pharmacological facilitation of fear extinction to enhance psychotherapy during a session focused on linking research with humans and other animals. Davis, along with Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, of the Yerkes Research Center and Emory School of Medicine, showed in rodent studies that the tuberculosis drug D-cycloserine (DCS) has a positive effect on the extinction of fear. Together with Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, director of Emory’s Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program, they discovered the use of DCS in combination with psychotherapy is an effective treatment for some anxiety-related disorders including acrophobia, an abnormal fear of heights. The researchers now are studying the effect of DCS combined with virtual reality therapy as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University is one of eight national primate research centers funded by the NIH. The Yerkes Research Center is a recognized leader for its biomedical and behavioral studies with nonhuman primates, which provide a critical link between research with small laboratory animals and the clinical trials performed in humans. Yerkes researchers are on the forefront of developing vaccines for AIDS and malaria, and treatments for cocaine addiction and Parkinson’s disease. Yerkes researchers also are leading programs to better understand the aging process, pioneer organ transplant procedures and provide safer drugs to organ transplant recipients, determine the behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy, prevent early onset vision disorders and shed light on human behavioral evolution.

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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