Translational Neuroscience Research in Schizophrenia
The Translational Neuroscience Research in Schizophrenia division is focused on understanding the biological basis of schizophrenia and identifying new treatments for the several domains of symptoms. Current studies concentrate on exploring the role of hippocampal dysfunction in schizophrenia using in vivo imaging and human postmortem tissue, exploring the phenotype associated with psychosis across all psychosis diagnoses, and testing early treatments for cognitive dysfunctions in the illness.
We emphasize translational tools for clinical research, including human brain imaging and analysis of high quality human postmortem tissue for hypothesis testing research. Our range of clinical studies, from the most exploratory to highly applied clinical testing, is optimal for patient and normal volunteer recruitment from the community. It is a first-call resource for public mental health treatment centers around the city. In addition, the range of research activities attracts bright and talented students and associates to become involved in the research.
This division is led by Carol A. Tamminga, M.D., who also chairs the Department of Psychiatry. She has an extensive background in clinical and basic neuroscience research on the causes and treatments of schizophrenia, having written more than 300 papers and two books over her career. Dr. Tamminga organized the Division specifically to provide support for translational research on this disease, including a formally establishing a brain tissue bank, gaining access to the newest generation of brain imaging technologies, and developing protocols for studying genetic associations.
Involvement in Education and Training
The division regularly hosts residents, doctoral students, medical students, and other interested students who want to become involved in clinical neuroscience research.
We seek graduate students who are interested in aspects of basic neuroscience as they apply to psychiatric diseases, particularly dimensions of psychosis and depression. If you are interested in using human tissues, including clinically well-characterized human postmortem brain tissue, DNA, and case-specific fibroblasts as translational tools, in connection with animal models of functional brain diseases and in vivo human brain imaging, you would be well-rewarded in our Division laboratory.
Involvement in Research
The Translational Neuroscience Research in Schizophrenia division is a research group which focuses on developing, supporting, and administering programs of research, research training, and resource development aimed at understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and related disorders, and hastening the translation of behavioral and neuroscience advances into innovations in clinical care.
Our primary area of interest is the nature and treatment of cognitive deficits commonly seen in schizophrenia and related disorders. It is now widely accepted that cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia and are strongly implicated in the occupational and social deficits seen in this patient population. Another important focus is to conduct phenotyping to understand the genetic inheritance patterns of schizophrenia and related disorders. This research is being conducted by using molecular biological techniques in post-mortem brain tissue, as well as a variety of physiological and genetic assessments in probands and their family members.
Our primary purpose is to conduct research on the etiology and pathophysiology of schizophrenia and related disorders in an order to:
- Define predictors and understand the mechanism of treatment response.
- Create and refine biomarkers, behavioral assessments, and phenotypic characterizations of psychotic disorders.
- Evaluate existing therapies for new indications, and, in collaboration, with academic, industry and regulatory agencies, hasten the development of more effective new treatments for psychotic disorders with an emphasis on schizophrenia.
We support an integrated research program in an effort to clarify psychopathology and neurocognitive deficits to better understand the underlying pathophysiology in an effort to develop new treatments to enhance neurocognition in schizophrenia and related disorders.
Involvement in Patient Care
The Translational Neuroscience Research in Schizophrenia division is primarily focused on research, and all of the patient care we provide is through our clinical trials and studies. All of our patients enrolled in clinical trials receive either experimental care or standard levels of care. They are recruited from the community, so they represented a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Depending on the goals of the clinical trial, patients recruited may be at varying stages of disease progression.