Meaghan Creed, PhD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the 2021 Freedman Prize from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The prize recognizes exceptional basic research in mental illness.
Creed, an investigator in the Washington University Pain Center, studies how plasticity in the brain is altered in models of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Her team works to apply this knowledge to develop therapies — such as deep brain stimulation — to treat symptoms at the interface of chronic pain, addiction and mood disorders.
She was selected for the Freedman Prize because of her work using optogenetic techniques — the stimulation of brain cells with light — to understand how circuits operate in the brain’s basal ganglia. She also is using pharmacologic techniques and electrical stimulation to alter the function of those brain circuits and normalize reward processing in the brain, which can be impaired in those with chronic pain or addiction.
The Freedman Prize comes with a small cash prize of $1,000 and is awarded annually to honor the work of scientists who have been supported by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s Young Investigator Grants Program. Creed received such support in 2018.