Our current research is focused in two different areas: dual diagnoses (i.e., depression or bipolar disorders concurrent with medical illness or substance abuse) and the effects of corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone) on mood and memory.
The Psychoneuroendocrine (PNE) Lab is under the direction of E. Sherwood Brown, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Brown has initiated nine independent research projects since 2005, bringing over $4 million to the university through NIH grants, as well as other granting agencies including NIMH, NHLBI, NIDA, NIAA, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, AstraZeneca, and Forest Laboratories. Additionally, he has been an editorial reviewer in over 45 journals and has published over 100 articles over the past 14 years.
Involvement in Education and Training
Dr. Brown is very involved in mentoring trainees and students. Within the PNE Lab many interns are often rotating through the Department from various programs, such as NIDA, STARS, and SURF, as well as medical and undergraduate students.
The internship program at PNE allows students to be involved in various aspects of the research process from data analysis, data entry, sitting-in on appointments, to in-house trainings and lectures. In addition, students gain exposure to patient interactions and have many opportunities to observe mood and cognitive assessments. Often, Dr. Brown will work with an intern on special projects, depending on the time commitment an intern is willing to commit.
Involvement in Research
Some mood disorders are associated with general medical conditions. For instance, it has been found from previous studies that many asthma patients with severe symptoms often suffer from depression as well. We are interested in looking at the impact of antidepressant treatment on asthma and depression symptoms.
Some mood disorders are associated with comorbid substance abuse. We are also investigating the all too common problem of people with mood or other psychiatric disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, using drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate. Our ongoing studies in this area examine whether certain medications or nutritional supplements can both curb cravings for these substances and help stabilize mood symptoms.
Our group is interested in researching how long-term corticosteroid therapy affects brain activity and function. Our group recently completed a project examining different aspects of the hippocampus (volume, biochemistry, and functioning) in patients receiving chronic prednisone therapy. A significant amount of our research examines if there are medications available that can prevent the common corticosteriod side-effects of memory impairment and manic and hypomanic symptoms.