Cleveland Clinic Awarded $11.8 Million to Study Strategies Against Treatment-Resistant Depression

Study to compare electroconvulsive therapy versus ketamine

A team of Cleveland Clinic researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology has been approved for an $11.8 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study strategies for effectively addressing treatment-resistant depression.

Nearly one-third of the 14 million Americans living with depression do not get adequate relief from their initial therapy approaches. Clinicians, however, do not currently have a reliable way to predict who will respond to available therapies.

Under the direction of primary investigator Amit Anand, M.D., vice chair for research in Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health, the study will offer insights into the safety and effectiveness of two existing treatments. Dr. Anand’s study will compare electroconvulsive therapy versus ketamine in patients who suffer from severe treatment-resistant depression.

“Ketamine is rapidly being adopted around the country for treatment of treatment-resistant depression as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy. However, no large-scale trials of ketamine’s safety and efficacy as compared to electroconvulsive therapy have been conducted,” Dr. Anand said. “This study will fill this evidence gap.”

Treatment-resistant depression can be devastating for both patients and their families, significantly impacting health and well-being. An internationally recognized expert in brain imaging and psychopharmacology of mood disorders, Dr. Anand will focus on quality of life and relief from depression without significant side effects, which can include memory loss.

“PCORI funds initiatives that look directly at patient outcomes. They focus on the effectiveness of the treatment in disorders that greatly affect our society,” says Donald Malone, M.D., chair of Psychiatry and Psychology and president of Lutheran Hospital. “Depression clearly is one of those illnesses. I am confident that the results of this effort will directly benefit patients.”

The project was selected through a highly competitive review process. Applications were assessed for scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders, and their methodological rigor among other criteria. The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

“We are excited to lead this patient-centered project in which patients, patient advocacy groups, third-party payers as well as physicians will be involved in the conduct and monitoring of the study,” Dr. Anand said.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI’s funding, visit

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., MPH. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with Cleveland Clinic to share the results.”


About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S.News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 49,000 employees are more than 3,400 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 14,000 nurses, representing 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, nine community hospitals, more than 150 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in Weston, Fla.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2015, there were 6.6 million outpatient visits, 164,700 hospital admissions and 208,807 surgical cases throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 180 countries. Visit us at  Follow us at

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