Study Intends to Find New Ways to Treat or Prevent Major Depression


Investigators have launched a 3-year study to develop predictive models that will help identify better treatment plans for patients with depression.



University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Stanford Medicine investigators have teamed up to launch a collaborative, 3-year study to investigate new ways to treat or prevent major depression. They also hope to encourage the application of effective treatments and develop predictive models for identifying ideal treatments for individual patients.

“Depression is not a singular condition, and there is no singular remedy,” said Zafiris J. Daskalakis, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It is an extraordinarily complex disease that, in many ways, is not yet well-understood. It is a different disease in every person, and every person requires a personalized therapeutic strategy.”

Daskalakis will colead the program with Conor Liston, MD, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Nolan Williams, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medicine.

For some patients with depression, pharmaceutical treatments are ineffective. Because of this, the investigators will focus on current and novel uses of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

“TMS requires patients to come to the clinic daily, and medications do not,” said Liston. “So for many people, medications are a good first treatment to try, but TMS is a great option for people who do not respond to medications.”

Study participants will receive various treatments, including different types of TMS and the antidepressant escitalopram, one of the most used SSRI treatments for depression. Participants will be evaluated clinically through assessments and brain scans. The resulting analysis is intended to yield algorithms that can match patients with more effective, personalized treatment plans.


1. University of California San Diego Health. Major contract fuels three-university study of TMS for treating depression. Newswise. February 22, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2022.

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