Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD

Position: Assistant Professor
Categories: Faculty

Dr. Cassano is Director of the Photobiomodulation Program in the Division of Neuropsychiatry and Neuromodulation at MGH. His work addresses inequality in brain health, which hampers people’s lives. He is interested in revolutionary interventions to treat and to prevent brain disorders. His focus is on the use of light (photobiomodulation with red and near-infrared light) to improve brain health. Near-infrared light is natural, as it represents one third of sunlight.

Brain disorders are just the tip of the iceberg. For all healthy people, who are fortunate not to experience symptoms of a brain disorder, the brain is still continuously under the wear and tear of life stressors and of aging. Prolonged stress affects our brain by leading to excessive inflammation and oxidation of the brain, as well as by decreasing brain energy and brain rejuvenation (also called neuroplasticity). Overtime, this cumulative brain damage is considered to predispose to brain disorders.

Among the new potential interventions, photobiomodulation with red and infrared light specifically targets the wear and tear of the brain and brings new hopes of improving or maintaining brain health.

His efforts, as a clinician and scientist, are focused on making this new intervention available to people, on studying its clinical applications and on guiding its optimal use.

Brain health is essential to mothers and fathers who want to decrease their chances of contracting a familial brain disease, such as dementia. Brain health is also important to daughters and sons who during puberty are more at risk of mood and anxiety disorders and of suicide. The lack of brain health is likely to affect all our relationships: in the couple, at home, at work and in life in general; therefore, altering the bonds, which make life meaningful.

By addressing their brain health, people might have an opportunity to blossom and to strive for what they believe in; possibly, to overturn an unfair script of their biology.