Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby

Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby

Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Sarah Hollingsworth “Holly” Lisanby, MD, is an experienced translational researcher and innovator of neuromodulation technologies to study and treat psychiatric disorders. Dr. Lisanby is Director of the Division of Translational Research at NIMH, which funds research on the discovery of preventions, treatments, and cures for mental illness across the lifespan.  She is Founder and Director of the Noninvasive Neuromodulation Unit in the NIMH Intramural Research Program, a multi-disciplinary clinical research program specializing in the innovation of new brain stimulation tools to measure and modulate neuroplasticity to improve mental health.  Dr. Lisanby is former Chair of the Duke Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and JP Gibbons Endowed Professor at Duke University.  She founded and directed both the Duke and the Columbia University Divisions of Brain Stimulation, where she built interdisciplinary research programs specializing in the convergence of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Engineering. She co-led the NIH BRAIN Initiative Team focused on large-scale neural recording and modulation devices. Dr. Lisanby has been principal investigator on a series of federally funded grants on the development of novel neuromodulation technologies, including the rational design of magnetic and electrical seizure therapies.  Her team pioneered magnetic seizure therapy (MST) as a novel depression treatment from the stages of animal testing, first-in-human, and international clinical trials.  She led a series of studies involving transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), MST, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. She has received numerous international recognitions, including the Max Hamilton Memorial Prize of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum, the Gerald Klerman Award from the National Depression and Manic Depression Association, and the Eva King Killam Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.  She has been a member of the NIMH Board of Scientific Counselors. Dr. Lisanby served on the FDA Neurological Devices Advisory Panel and has held key leadership positions with numerous professional associations, including serving as President for the Association for Convulsive Therapy/International Society of Neurostimulation, and the International Society for Transcranial Stimulation, and Chair of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force to Revise the Practice on ECT. 

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Contact Information


  • M.D. Duke University School of Medicine, 1991

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Regenold, WT; Deng, Z-D; Lisanby, SH, Noninvasive neuromodulation of the prefrontal cortex in mental health disorders., Neuropsychopharmacology (2021) [10.1038/s41386-021-01094-3] [abs].
  • Lisanby, SH; McClintock, SM; McCall, WV; Knapp, RG; Cullum, CM; Mueller, M; Deng, Z-D; Teklehaimanot, AA; Rudorfer, MV; Bernhardt, E; Alexopoulos, G; Bailine, SH; Briggs, MC; Geduldig, ET; Greenberg, RM; Husain, MM; Kaliora, S; Latoussakis, V; Liebman, LS; Petrides, G; Prudic, J; Rosenquist, PB; Sampson, S; Tobias, KG; Weiner, RD; Young, RC; Kellner, CH; Prolonging Remission in Depressed Elderly (PRIDE) Work Group,, Longitudinal Neurocognitive Effects of Combined Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Pharmacotherapy in Major Depressive Disorder in Older Adults: Phase 2 of the PRIDE Study., Am J Geriatr Psychiatry (2021) [10.1016/j.jagp.2021.04.006] [abs].
  • Fried, PJ; Santarnecchi, E; Antal, A; Bartres-Faz, D; Bestmann, S; Carpenter, LL; Celnik, P; Edwards, D; Farzan, F; Fecteau, S; George, MS; He, B; Kim, Y-H; Leocani, L; Lisanby, SH; Loo, C; Luber, B; Nitsche, MA; Paulus, W; Rossi, S; Rossini, PM; Rothwell, J; Sack, AT; Thut, G; Ugawa, Y; Ziemann, U; Hallett, M; Pascual-Leone, A, Training in the practice of noninvasive brain stimulation: Recommendations from an IFCN committee., Clin Neurophysiol, vol 132 no. 3 (2021), pp. 819-837 [10.1016/j.clinph.2020.11.018] [abs].
  • Rossi, S; Antal, A; Bestmann, S; Bikson, M; Brewer, C; Brockmöller, J; Carpenter, LL; Cincotta, M; Chen, R; Daskalakis, JD; Di Lazzaro, V; Fox, MD; George, MS; Gilbert, D; Kimiskidis, VK; Koch, G; Ilmoniemi, RJ; Lefaucheur, JP; Leocani, L; Lisanby, SH; Miniussi, C; Padberg, F; Pascual-Leone, A; Paulus, W; Peterchev, AV; Quartarone, A; Rotenberg, A; Rothwell, J; Rossini, PM; Santarnecchi, E; Shafi, MM; Siebner, HR; Ugawa, Y; Wassermann, EM; Zangen, A; Ziemann, U; Hallett, M; basis of this article began with a Consensus Statement from the IFCN Workshop on "Present, Future of TMS: Safety, Ethical Guidelines", Siena, October 17-20, 2018, updating through April 2020,, Safety and recommendations for TMS use in healthy subjects and patient populations, with updates on training, ethical and regulatory issues: Expert Guidelines., Clin Neurophysiol, vol 132 no. 1 (2021), pp. 269-306 [10.1016/j.clinph.2020.10.003] [abs].
  • Oberman, LM; Hynd, M; Nielson, DM; Towbin, KE; Lisanby, SH; Stringaris, A, Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder: A Focus on Neurodevelopment., Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol 12 (2021) [10.3389/fpsyt.2021.642847] [abs].