2024 Speaker

Scott Thompson is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, arriving in 2022.

He received a BS in biology with a concentration in neurobiology at Cornell University and a PhD in neurobiology from Stanford in 1986. He then spent nearly 10 years on the faculty of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, at the Brain Research Institute before coming to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1998. He remained in the Department of Physiology for 24 years, including 11 as chair.

Thompson’s research is focused on understanding what goes wrong in the brain in patients suffering from depression and using that knowledge to identify novel therapeutic strategies for treatment. Stressful life events are a key risk factor for depressive disorders. His laboratory uses chronic stress to produce changes in the behavior of rats and mice that are analogous to the behavioral symptoms of human depression, such as anhedonia. This research has revealed that cells in parts of the brain that respond to rewarding stimuli do not communicate effectively after chronic stress and that all known antidepressant drugs restore normal communication in these same brain regions. These findings led to the identification of a novel class of compounds that produce a rapid relief of symptoms of depression in rodents, and novel approaches for increasing the utility and lowering the cost of using psychedelic compounds in psychiatry. He has seven patents that have been licensed to two companies dedicated to bringing these compounds from the laboratory to the clinic.