Hilary Blumberg MD

Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Diagnostic Radiology; Director, Mood Disorders Research Program

Research Interests

Adolescence; Bipolar Disorder; Brain; Depression; Development; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Emotion; Endophenotype; Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Mania; Manic Depressive Disorder; Neuropsychiatry; Neuroscience; Women

Current Projects

  • MRI Brain Scanning Studies of Adolescents and Adults with Bipolar Disorder
  • MRI Brain Scanning Studies of Brain Development in Healthy Adolescents and Adults
  • MRI and Gene Studies of Genes and the Brain
  • MRI Study of Stress and the Brain in Adolescents and Adults
  • Study of Stress, the Brain and the Development of Depression in Adolescents
  • Study of Stress, the Brain and the Development of Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents

Research Summary

A focus of Dr. Blumberg's laboratory is the use of brain scanning techniques to elucidate the differences in brain circuitry that underlie mood disorders, and how these differences develop. The laboratory has identified differences in parts of the brain that are important in emotional regulation in bipolar disorder, including differences in the pattern of their development in the disorder. For example, the laboratory has identified amygdala differences that are present in adults with bipolar disorder and also in adolescents with bipolar disorder suggesting that these are features that appear early, at least by adolescence in the disorder. Differences in the ventral prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain that includes the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the prefrontal cortex above the eyes) appear to progress over the course of adolescence in bipolar disorder. This suggests that early intervention might be able to prevent progression and help prognosis. Preliminary evidence suggests treatment may reverse some of the brain differences and may have the potential to prevent this progression.

The lab is working intensively on genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the differences in development and that may point to new prevention and treatment strategies. Brain scanning techniques used in this work include structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the size and shape of brain structures, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study how the parts of the brain function individually and as part of brain circuits, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study the connections between brain structures.

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Blumberg is the Director of The Yale Mood Disorders Research Program (MDRP). The MDRP is dedicated to understanding the science of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and depression. The MDRP brings together a multi-disciplinary group of scientists from across the Yale campus in a highly collaborative research effort. The scientists use a wide variety of scientific methods to study how genetic and environmental factors affect the brain and lead to the development of mood disorders. Goals of the MDRP include the identification of biological markers for mood disorders and discovery of new treatment strategies. It is hoped that these research efforts will lead to new and improved methods for early detection and treatment, and someday prevention, of mood disorders.


Selected Publications

  • Wang F, Kalmar JH, Chepenik LG, Womer F, Pittman B, Gueorguieva R, Blumberg HP. Olfactocentric paralimbic cortex in adolescent bipolar disorder, Brain, 2011, 134:2005-12
  • Wang F, He Y, Jackowski M, Kalmar JH, Chepenik LG, Tie K, Gong G, Shah MP, Jones M, Uderman J, Constable RT, Blumberg HP. Structural and functional connectivity between the perigenual anterior cingulate and amygdala in bipolar disorder. Biological Psychiatry 2009, 66: 516-521.
  • Shah MP, Wang F, Kalmar JH, Chepenik LG, Tie K, Jones MM, Constable RT, Gelernter J, Blumberg HP. Role of genetic variation in the serotonin transporter in trait disturbances in the ventral anterior cingulate in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 2009, 34:1301-10.
  • Chepenik LG, Fredericks C, Papademetris X, Spencer L, Lacadie C, Wang F, Pittman B, Duncan JS, Staib LH, Duman RS, Gelernter J, Blumberg HP. Effects of the brain derived neurotrophic growth factor Val66Met variation on hippocampus morphology in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 2009, 34:944-51
  • Blumberg HP, Wang F, Chepenik LG, Kalmar JH, Edmiston E, Duman RS, Gelernter J. Influence of vascular endothelial growth factor variation on hippocampus morphology, Biological Psychiatry 2008, 64:901-903.
  • Blumberg HP, Krystal JH, Bansal R, Martin A, Dziura J, Durkin K, Martin L, Gerard E, Charney DS, Peterson BS. Age, rapid-cycling and pharmacotherapy effects on ventral prefrontal cortex in bipolar disorder: a cross-sectional study. Biological Psychiatry 2006, 59:611-618.
  • Blumberg HP, Kaufman J, Martin A, Whiteman R, Gore JC, Charney DS, Krystal JH, Peterson BS. Amygdala and hippocampus volumes in adolescents and adults with bipolar disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry 2003;60:1201-1208
  • Blumberg HP, Leung HC, Skudlarski P, Lacadie C, Fredericks C, Harris B, Charney D, Gore JC, Krystal JH, Peterson BS. A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of bipolar disorder: state- and trait-related dysfunction in ventral prefrontal cortices. Archives of General Psychiatry 2003;60: 599-607.

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