Narrative Report of Research, Teaching, and Clinical Contributions:
Dr. Fava is currently Director, Division of Clinical Research of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Research Institute, Executive Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry at MGH, and Executive Director of the MGH Clinical Trials Network and Institute (CTNI), as well as Slater Family Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fava founded the Depression Clinical and Research Program (DCRP) at MGH in 1990 and was Director of the DCRP from 1990 to 2014, when he became Director of Clinical Research at MGH. Under Dr. Fava’s direction, the DCRP became one of the leading centers for the study of Unipolar Depressive Disorders in the world. Dr. Fava was the co-Principal Investigator with Dr. A.John Rush of the largest clinical trial ever conducted in depression, STAR*D, whose findings were published in journals such NEJM and JAMA. In addition to his numerous clinical trials and studies in treatment resistant depression, Dr. Fava has contributed significantly to the field of psychiatric research in a number of other areas. He has identified a subtype of depressive disorder characterized by marked irritability and “anger attacks.” His innovative work has led to the discovery that these individuals present a blunted prolactin response to fenfluramine challenge, are more likely to have brain white matter hyperintensities, and may selectively respond to serotonergic compounds. In addition, Dr. Fava has conducted important investigations on the role of folate deficiency in depression and on the efficacy in depression of one carbon cycle elements with putative antidepressant effects such as s-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) and methylfolate. His pioneering work in this area led to his R-01 grant on the efficacy of SAMe in major depressive disorder (MDD) and to the successful trial of SAMe augmentation in resistant depression, published in the Am J Psychiatry. He has conducted and published the first prospective, placebo-controlled study of discontinuation-emergent adverse events of the newer antidepressants and he has designed and developed a protocol for the first, large multicenter study on the effects of abrupt interruption of SSRI treatment. He has completed a large single-site study of bupropion augmentation of the nicotine patch in depressed smokers (as part of one of his previous R01s) and he was the PI of a large, 9-year U-01 aimed at developing new treatments for nicotine dependence. He has developed with Dr. David Schoenfeld a novel design (with over five patents) to address the problem of excessive placebo response in drug trials and to markedly reduce sample size requirements for these trials. He has also been very active in developing new instruments to measure the effects of antidepressants treatments, and several of his validated instruments (such as the DESS scale, SFQ scale, the CPFQ scale, and the SDQ scale) are being used by clinical investigators all over the world. With respect to his publications, Dr. Fava has authored or co-authored over 700 original articles published in refereed medical journals with international circulation, cited over 55,000 times in the literature, with an h index greater than 115. He has also edited eight books, and he has published more than 80 chapters/reviews and over 600 abstracts. In 2007, he founded and is now the Executive Director of the MGH Psychiatry Clinical Trials Network and Institute (CTNI), the first academic CRO specialized in the coordination of multi-center clinical trials in psychiatry. The MGH CTNI is currently conducting numerous large multi-center clinical trials and helping develop new treatments for psychiatric disorders. Dr. Fava has been the PI of the large NIMH-sponsored RAPID contract, aimed at studying novel treatments for depression with rapid antidepressant effects through a network of academic sites coordinated by the MGH CTNI. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Fava has also been successful in obtaining over $95,000,000 in funding for his program, as principal or co-principal investigator, from the National Institute of Health, other federal agencies, foundations, and pharmaceutical industries. In April 2014, Dr. Fava was named Director of the Clinical Research Program (CRP) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and is now the Director, Division of Clinical Research of the MGH Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
Dr. Fava has an excellent track record as a teacher and has been very active in instructing and supervising psychiatric residents and fellows. Over the past 25 years, Dr. Fava has also trained and mentored over 50 research fellows/junior faculty in his program, many of whom have continued to work in the area of psychiatric research following completion of their fellowship. Dr. Fava has also been the mentor/sponsor for over 30 successful NARSAD, APA, and K Award fellowship applications (he is currently mentoring three K-23 Award recipients), and he has received the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award, Harvard Medical School and the John T. Potts, Jr., MD Faculty Mentoring Award/2012. Over the past several years, he has organized and chaired numerous national and international symposia and has served on many advisory panels for pharmaceutical companies. In addition, he has reviewed grant proposals and specific RFP concepts/contracts for the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the NCCAM. Dr. Fava is currently the co-director of the Psychopharmacology Course of the MGH Psychiatry Academy, one of the most highly attended courses in the country, with approximately 600 participants each year. Dr. Fava has also lectured extensively, with over 350 presentations at national and international meetings and conferences. Dr. Fava was elected President of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (ASCP) from 2013 until 2015.
Dr. Fava is considered an expert psychopharmacologist in the area of depression and frequently provides consultations to difficult cases referred to him from all over the world. He has been for the past 20 years in charge of a large PO group practice of clinicians specialized in the treatment of patients with mood disorders, and his leadership skills have been critical to the financial success of this group.