Board of Advisors
Francesco Benedetti, MD (University of Modena, 1991) is Head of the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences research group at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milano, and contract professor of Psychiatry and of General Psychopathology at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele.
His clinical research group gathers researchers working at the interface between neuroscience and behavioral disorders. Areas of expertise encompass clinical psychobiology, brain imaging, genetics of response to psychiatric treatments, pharmacology, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, and genetic correlates of psychopathological conditions.
In the last 15 years he and his group have developed clinical chronotherapeutics of mood disorders into a practical, everyday method for the psychiatric ward, particularly focusing on bipolar disorder. Beginning with sleep deprivation, they added sleep phase advance, light therapy, and different medications to see if the rapid response could be maintained. They found that the same gene polymorphisms that hinder clinical response to antidepressants affect the response to chronotherapeutics in a similar fashion. At the functional MRI level, those selective regions of the brain that are modified by improvement on antidepressants also are the ones involved in chronotherapeutic response. These multiple approaches provide an important scientific database to document efficacy and mechanisms of action of non-pharmacological antidepressant methods.
Francesco is a member of CET’s Chronotherapeutics Consultants, and was the major clinical expert in writing our treatment manual, Chronotherapeutics for Affective Disorders.
Konstantin V. Danilenko, MD, is a biomedical researcher, and a vice director for scientific and clinical research at the Institute of Physiology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia.
His research focuses on the light physiology in humans. He has conducted a series of fundamental and clinical studies on retinal sensitivity, biological clock and melatonin secretion, winter depression and reproductive function, with support from colleagues from abroad and international grants.
He has been a member of the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms (SLTBR) since 1989.
Claude Gronfier received his PhD in neuroscience from the University Louis Pasteur (Strasbourg, France) in 1998. During a fellowship at Harvard Medical School, he studied the consequences of having an internal biological clock improperly reset by light, and how to maintain synchrony with the light-dark cycle in extreme conditions such as spaceflight.
In 2003, he joined an Inserm laboratory (French National Institute of Health and Biomedical Research) as Chargé de Recherche (Senior Research Associate). His current projects focus on light’s mechanisms of action on the biological clock, and sleep disorders in conditions such as ocular pathology, neurodegenerative disease, aging and mood disorders.
He is a board member of the French Society of Research and Sleep Medicine and the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, and he serves on two technical committees of the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage (CIE TC 6-62 and TC 6-63).
Claude is co-author of the recent book for the French public, En finir avec le blues de l’hiver et les troubles du rythme veille-sommeil (Marabout, 2008).
Farhad Hafezi, MD, PhD, is a corneal and refractive laser surgeon specialized in complication management. Prof. Hafezi is also one of the pioneers of the collagen cross-linking (CXL) treatment method for keratoconus and postoperative ectasia. His research focuses on corneal biomechanics, and CXL; his most recent publications involve the novel method for treating corneal infections using CXL parameters called PACK-CXL (Photo-Activated Chromophore for Keratitis).
Philantrophically, Prof. Hafezi founded an initiative called Light for Sight to eliminate preventable blindness among children and adolescents with keratoconus.
In 2010, Professor Hafezi was appointed Chair and Prof. of Ophthalmology of the University Eye Clinic of Geneva and Eye Clinic Director at the Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland. In 2012, the faculty of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) Los Angeles (Doheny Eye Institute) appointed Professor Hafezi as Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology.
In 2013, Prof. Hafezi was a co-founder and head scientific advisor of the spin-off company from the University of Geneva called EMAGine SA (Zug, Switzerland). This company will bring out the first device to treat corneal infections at the slit lamp using CXL technology.
Prof. Hafezi has published 130 articles and book chapters including articles in Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics and Genes & Development. His work has been cited more than 3,600 times with a total impact factor of 356 (ISI 2012) and h index of 33.
Robert D. Levitan, M.D., is a Psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and a Professor of Psychiatry and Physiology at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Robert’s primary interest is the “atypical spectrum” of mood disorders which encompass both depression and overeating/obesity, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). He studies the early developmental origins of these disorders, and the use of light therapy for various disorders that can be influenced by seasonal effects, including attention deficit disorder. The use of light therapy to phase advance delayed circadian rhythms in these patients is a particular focus of this work.
Dorothy Sit, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Her research focus is on novel treatment development for patients with Bipolar Disorder (BD). She recently completed a randomized control trial to examine the efficacy of light therapy for the treatment of bipolar depression. She is investigating possible changes in chronobiological rhythms (sleep, melatonin, activity levels) from light therapy in depressed patients with BD. She is launching new studies to explore early visual processing, and visual and neural markers of light therapy, in BD to examine putative novel predictors of treatment response and to further investigate the pathophysiology underlying BD. Her research also extends to the study of the phenomenology, psychopharmacology and metabolism of women with BD and Major Depressive Disorder across the life cycle (pregnancy, postpartum, menstrual cycles).
Carlo Volf, MAA, PhD, Specialist in Architecture, works at an intensive affective disorders unit as researcher at the Mental Health Center Copenhagen, University Hospital of Copenhagen. His approach is rooted in lighting as one of the most important aspects of building design, incorporating it at the very early start of the process of creating hospitals. A special focus on daylight quality and ventilation makes his work inherently informed by classical human focused design. From a design perspective, he takes his point of departure in daylight as a free source of light when planning buildings to capture both natural daylight and natural air. He has been working on several new hospitals, including New Herlev Hospital and Psychiatric Centre Ballerup. There he has introduced asymmetrical solar architecture, and special glass types to promote health and sleep. He is currently leveraging his knowledge of hospital architecture to design residential housing and public schools.
Dr. Joseph Wu has done studies on chronobiological manipulations focused on mood elevation in depressive disorders using sleep deprivation (aka “wake therapy”), sleep phase advance, and bright light treatment. He demonstrated a robust improvement above and beyond medication treatment as usual approaches that indicated not only did depressed patients respond more quickly to the chronobiological treatment but also had much greater final antidepressant effect. He has also done brain imaging studies on how the brain changes in response to chronobiological interventions, such as sleep deprivation, and demonstrated a key role for the subgenual region of the anterior cingulate.