Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD

Dr. Paolo Cassano is assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Photobiomodulation at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Depression and Clinical Research Program and Principal Investigator at the MGH Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders. 


Dr. Cassano received both his MD in medicine and surgery and his PhD in clinical neuro-psychopharmacology from the University of Pisa in Italy.  He pursued post-doctoral studies in mood and anxiety disorders with the MGH Depression and Clinical Research Program (DCRP) and graduated from the MGH-McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program in 2009 at Harvard University.


Since 2009, Dr. Cassano has led multiple studies on transcranial photobiomodulation with near-infrared light for anxiety and mood disorders, including translational studies aimed at discovering the mechanisms of action of photobiomodulation. His translational studies have focused on the effects of near-infrared light on mitochondria, cerebral blood flow (fNIRs-DCS), on brain electrical activity (EEG) and on autonomic reactivity, such as heart rate variability (HRV). For his studies on photobiomodulation, he was awarded competitive, national grants such as the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD. He was also the principal investigator on several multicenter clinical trials, sponsored by private companies, to test photobiomodulation for anxiety and depression.


These groundbreaking projects have led to very promising results; they have demonstrated preliminary efficacy of near-infrared light for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Considerable press attention stemmed from these studies, with CNN, Washington Post and Boston Globe coverage at the national level. Dr. Cassano was invited to present his work at multiple national and international, psychiatry and optics’ conferences; therefore, spearheading the field of photo-biomodulation psychiatry. He has coauthored more than 50 publications and currently serves as the Associated Editor of Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery.


In 2016, under Dr. Cassano’s leadership, the MGH Psychiatry Photobiomodulation Clinic was started at the MGH CATSD and DCRP programs, for the off-label use of transcranial photobiomodulation in psychiatry. 


    Dr. Cassano in co-inventor of several patent applications for the therapeutic uses of photobiomodulation and he is the cofounder of a company aimed at creating new therapeutic light solutions.


View Dr. Cassano’s research: