NIMH Appoints High-profile ECT Proponent to Key Directorship

Rob Wipond
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The US National Institute of Mental Health has appointed psychiatrist Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby to the role of director of its Division of Translational Research. Lisanby holds “key leadership” positions in organizations that promote the use of electro-convulsive therapy, noted an NIMH press release, and she will now oversee $400 million in research funding into the biological causes and treatments of mental illnesses.

Lisanby is President for the Association for Convulsive Therapy/International Society of Neurostimulation and the International Society for Transcranial Stimulation, and is also Chair of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force to Revise the Practice on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), stated the press release. It does not mention that in 2008 the FDA cited Lisanby for numerous ethical violations and safety compliance lapses in a clinical trial she was leading — the trial involved a “device” for which identifying information is censored on the FDA website. In 2011, Lisanby testified during FDA hearings that she believed safety restrictions on electroshock devices should be loosened.

In her new role with NIMH, Lisanby will “help set a national agenda for research on mental illness,” stated the press release.

Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations: Lisanby, Sarah H., M.D. 6-Oct-08 (Food and Drug Administration, October 6, 2008)

Dr. Sarah Lisanby on ECT (PsychCentral, retrieved on March 12, 2015)

Duke University psychiatrist Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby, M.D. will join NIMH in Fall 2015 (NIMH press release, March 4, 2015)

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