Scientific Advisory Board
Sooma’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is comprised of four board-certified and internationally recognized scientists with significant experience in the areas of non-invasive brain stimulation, psychiatry, behavioral sciences, neurology, neuropsychiatric, and biological psychiatry. More details about the SAB members below.
The Scientific Advisory Board will provide scientific guidance and help to design clinical studies to support the development of Sooma’s neuromodulation treatments and to reach new regulatory milestones.
Sooma has established this world-class Scientific Advisory board to secure top qualified guidance as we explore opportunities to develop our solution towards personalized therapies. The SAB also provides Sooma with access to relevant networks and partners across the world.
Professor Luigi Pulvirenti
Luigi Pulvirenti is the Founder & Director of the Neuroscience School of Advanced Studies, considered the most sophisticated Forum for study retreats and debates among thought leaders in the neurosciences. Prof. Pulvirenti is a board-certified neurologist and has been Professor of Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California for more than two decades, where he has led a research group investigating the brain circuits and the molecular mechanisms responsible for mood disorders and addictions. Funded by the National Institute of Health as well as by other public and private sources both in the US and overseas, his studies have been the topic of over 100 scientific publications. Focused on the understanding of molecular changes involved in the pathophysiology of emotional behaviour, Prof. Pulvirenti’s research has explored the brain circuits of motivation responsible for the behavioural changes leading to the loss of control over drug use. He is the author of books on the Neurochemical Basis of Behaviour and on the Addictive Brain. Prof. Pulvirenti has served as the Prime Minister of Italy as Scientific Member of the Office for the National Drug Control Policy and has served as Professor in Medical Schools of Universities both in the US and Europe. Prof. Pulvirenti has chaired numerous international academic conferences worldwide and has received numerous recognitions and awards for academic leadership.
Professor Mark George
Professor Mark George received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in 1985, where he continued with dual residencies in both neurology and psychiatry. He is board-certified in both areas. Following his residency training, he worked for one year (1990-91) as a Visiting Research Fellow in the Raymond Way Neuropsychiatry Research Group at the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, England. He then moved to Washington, DC, working with Dr. Robert Post in the Biological Psychiatry Branch of the Intramural National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). During his 4 years at NIMH, he was one of the first to use functional imaging (particularly oxygen PET) and discovered that specific brain regions change activity during normal emotions. This led to work using imaging to understand brain changes that occur in depression and mania. This imaging work directly led to his pioneering use of a non-invasive brain stimulation method, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as a probe of neuronal circuits regulating mood, and to clinical trials using TMS as an antidepressant. In 1993 while at the NIMH, he discovered that daily prefrontal rTMS over several weeks could treat depression, and ever since he has worked to grow the science of TMS, both in terms of how it works in the brain, and in critically evaluating its therapeutic applications, especially in the area of treating depression.
In June 1998 at MUSC, he also helped pioneer another new treatment for resistant depression, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). This was FDA-approved in 2006. Most recently he was the PI on an international trial that resulted in TMS being FDA approved to help with smoking cessation.
Dr. George is thus a world expert in brain imaging and brain stimulation, particularly combining the two. Clinically he is an expert on depression and several other neuropsychiatric disorders. He is the editor-in-chief of a new journal he launched with Elsevier in 2008 called, Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translation and Clinical Research in Neuromodulation. He has served as the chief editor for 13 years now and this journal is the top in its field.
He has been continuously funded by NIH and other funding agencies since his fellowships. He has received both a NARSAD Young Investigator and Independent Investigator Award to pursue TMS research in depression. He has received numerous international awards including the NARSAD Klerman Award (2000), NARSAD Falcone Award (2008), and the Lifetime Achievement Award (2007) given by the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP). He is on several editorial review boards and NIH study sections, has published over 500 scientific articles or book chapters, and has written or edited 6 books.
Assistant Professor Nolan Williams
Dr. Williams is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences and the Director of the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab. Dr. Williams has a broad background in clinical neuroscience and is triple board-certified in general neurology, general psychiatry, as well as behavioral neurology, and neuropsychiatry. In addition, he has specific training and clinical expertise in the development of brain stimulation methodologies under Mark George, MD. The themes of his work include (a) examining the use of spaced learning theory in the application of neurostimulation techniques, (b) development and mechanistic understanding of rapid-acting antidepressants, and (c) identifying objective biomarkers that predict neuromodulation responses in treatment-resistant neuropsychiatric conditions. He has published papers in high-impact peer-reviewed journals including Brain, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Results from his studies have gained widespread attention in journals such as Science and New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch as well as in the popular press and have been featured in various news sources including Time, Smithsonian, and Newsweek. Dr. Williams received two NARSAD Young Investigator Awards in 2016 and 2018 along with the 2019 Gerald R. Klerman Award. Dr. Williams received the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists in 2020.
Professor Frank Padberg
Dr. Padberg is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and Director of the Center for Non-invasive Brain Stimulation Munich Augsburg (CNBSMA) and the Section of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Hospital Munich, Dept. of Psychiatry. His research focus as a clinician scientist is on the development of novel, safe and effective non-pharmacological interventions for difficult-to-treat affective disorders, i.e. therapy-resistant or chronic depression or depression with significant psychiatric co-morbidities (e.g. borderline personality disorder, posttraumatic disorder – complex affective disorders).
Within two research groups, he and his co-workers are currently following different lines of research to achieve this overarching goal: 1) understanding the complexity of affective disorders by characterizing clinical, psychological (e.g. trauma, resilience, attachment, loneliness) and neurobiological features (e.g. oxytocin, HPA regulation) in affective disorders, 2) investigating mechanisms of action in psychotherapy (e.g. of Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy – CBASP), and 3) developing non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) methods (e.g. repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation – rTMS, transcranial direct current stimulation – tDCS) to provide safe and effective therapeutic interventions.
The third research track is most advanced and has been implemented as a translational research program funded by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, since 2015 German Center for Brain Stimulation – GCBS). But already as a young resident in 1997, Dr. Padberg has got interested in rTMS and published a first small pilot trial on major depressive disorder (MDD) in 1999. The vision of non-invasively stimulating cortical brain regions for providing effective therapy in MDD and other psychiatric disorders has accompanied his work, and nowadays turned to clinical practice. Today, NIBS represents a rapidly developing field of innovation in mental health research. Dr. Padberg widely contributed to this field (e.g. see google scholar: h-index: 62, i10-index: 172, 19972 citations).
In addition to the Scientific Advisory Board, we also have a wide network of clinical advisors to help us understand the best clinical practices for our therapies.