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Stigma Podcast - Mental Health

Oct 16, 2021

Dr. Amit Etkin is pioneering a revolution in the way mental health medications are designed, developed, prescribed, and brought to market.  Precision psychiatry is the future of mental health treatment and Dr. Etkin is leading the way with his drug development platform, Alto Neuroscience.  In this episode, Dr. Etkin explains why psychiatric drugs have failed, what he is doing about it and why it will work. 

Prior to Alto Neuroscience, Dr. Etkin was a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a member of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Etkin has received multiple awards, most notably the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2017. He is trained as both a psychiatrist and neuroscientist.

The overarching aim of his work in this field for the last 10 years is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to better understand how the brain works and to develop novel treatment interventions. In support of this goal, Dr. Etkin also collaborates with neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicians, and others to establish a new intellectual, scientific, and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits in healthy individuals and for treating psychiatric disease.

You can connect with Amit here:  LinkedIn

Alto Neuroscience Website:

What If Fellowship:



  1. Etkin shares his background, why he got into the field of neuroscience, and why he is building Alto Neuroscience.

  2. We discuss the biggest needs in the clinical psychology world is and how Alto Neuroscience will solve some of the greatest needs in the mental health space.

  3. We talk about measurement & testing, as well as biomarkers in the mental health space at large and why we are so far behind other healthcare verticals when it comes to measurement and testing in the mental health space.

  4. Etkin explains that one of the primary reasons bio-pharma companies haven’t focused as much as they should on Central Nervous System (CNS) drug development in the last couple of decades is because we can’t effectively measure how the drugs are working. All of that has changed now with the creation of Alto Neuroscience. 

  5. Amit talks about the concept of “precision psychiatry”, how precision is utilized in other fields of medicine, and the importance of using it in the mental health space to improve treatment options.

  6. We discuss how the combination of measurement and precision psychiatry can change psychiatry, drug development, and treatment of mental health disorders both broadly on a macro level and specifically with respect to his work at Alto Neuroscience.

  7. Amit shares about what Alto Neuroscience is currently working on, the drugs they currently developing, and their vision for the future of psychiatric medication.


Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email

Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)