Thomas R. Insel, M.D., graduated from Boston University where he received a B.A. from the College of Liberal Arts and an M.D. from the Medical School. He did his internship at Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and his residency at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Insel joined NIMH in 1979, where he served in various scientific research positions until 1994 when he went to Emory University, Atlanta, as Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, and Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. As director of Yerkes, Dr. Insel built one of the nation’s leading HIV vaccine research programs. He also served as the founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, a Science and Technology Center, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop an interdisciplinary consortium for research and education at eight Atlanta colleges and universities.
Dr. Insel’s scientific interests have ranged from clinical studies of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to explorations of the molecular basis of social behaviors in rodents and non-human primates. His research on oxytocin and affiliative behaviors, such as parental care and pair bonding, helped to launch the field of social neuroscience. Dr. Insel oversees the NIMH’s $1.4 billion research budget that provides support to investigators at universities throughout the country in the areas of basic science; clinical research, including large-scale trials of new treatments; and studies of the organization and delivery of mental health service.