Samuel Barondes Lectureship in Biological Psychiatry

Each year, the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences invites a distinguished scholar to speak on campus as part of a special distinguished visiting lectureship series highlighting the integration of biological sciences and psychiatry in honor of Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Endowed Chair and Chair Emeritus Samuel Barondes, MD.

The 2023 Samuel Barondes Lecture in Biological Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences hosted the 5th Samuel Barondes Lecture in Biological Psychiatry on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, at the UCSF Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building. This year's honoree was Bryan L. Roth, MD, PhD, one of the world's leading figures in the areas of molecular pharmacology, GPCR structure, and function and synthetic neurobiology. The title of his presentation was "A Crystal Clear View of Psychedelic Action."

About this year's speaker


Bryan L. Roth MD, PhD

Bryan L. Roth MD, PhD, is the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor of Protein Therapeutics and Translational Proteomics in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He also directs the NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program and the NIMH-funded National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group (UNC-Duke-Pfizer).

Dr. Roth studies the structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large and diverse family of proteins encompassing more than 1 percent of the genome. GPCRs couple to multiple intracellular signaling pathways, and currently more than 50 percent of approved medications target GPCRs. The ultimate goal of his research is to find ways to treat psychiatric disease using GPCR-based therapeutics.

After receiving his MD and PhD in Biochemistry from St. Louis University in 1983, he subsequently trained in the NIMH Lab of Preclinical Pharmacology and completed his residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in molecular biology at Stanford University. Prior to joining UNC in 2006, Dr. Roth served on the faculty of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine's Departments of Psychiatry, Biochemistry, Oncology, and Neurosciences for 15 years. Over the course of his career, he has published more than 450 papers in the area of the molecular pharmacology of drug actions, received over 40 patents, and founded two companies.

In 2007, his lab also developed Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs), a chemogenetic platform used to direct selective, dose-dependent activation of a specific G-protein subtype in vivo. Hailed as one of the most significant breakthrough biomedical research technologies of the 21st century, DREADDs have been used worldwide by scientists to identify brain cells which regulate perception, emotion, cognition, memory, sleep, and nearly every other known biological function mediated by the brain.

Dr. Roth is a member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received numerous honors, including the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics' Goodman and Gilman Award for Receptor Pharmacology, the PhRMA Foundation Excellence in Pharmacology Award, and a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award. He has also been named a Thompson Reuters "Highly Cited Scientist" in pharmacology and biology/biochemistry.

Previous lectureship honorees

About Samuel Barondes, MD


The official department portrait of Samuel Barondes, MD, the Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Endowed Chair and Chair Emeritus.

Samuel Barondes, MD, was educated at Columbia and Harvard and learned to do research at the National Institutes of Health as a postdoc with Gordon Tomkins, PhD. He also worked in the laboratory of Marshall Nirenberg, PhD, where he contributed to the Nobel Prize-winning studies that deciphered the genetic code.

Thereafter, Barondes devoted himself to integrating psychiatry with molecular biology and neuroscience. He has been a professor at the University of California since 1969, first at UC San Diego, where he was a founding member of the Department of Psychiatry and the Neuroscience Program, and since 1986 at UC San Francisco, where he initially served as chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Since 1994, he has served as the Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Endowed Chair and director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry. Throughout his time at UCSF, Barondes has chaired the Chancellor’s Art Committee, overseeing the acquisition and commissioning of hundreds of works, with special emphasis on the J. Michael Bishop Collection at Mission Bay.

Barondes is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1976, he was a founder of the McKnight Neuroscience Program, and served as its president for 10 years. His books include Cellular Dynamics of the Neuron (1969); Neuronal Recognition (1976); Molecules and Mental Illness (1993); Mood Genes (1998); Better Than Prozac (2003); Making Sense of People (2011, 2016); and Before I Sleep: Poems For Children Who Think (2014).