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17 04, 2019

Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Governing Cortical Surface Area Overgrowth in iPSC-derived Neural Cells from Longitudinally Characterized Autism Individuals | Hazlett | $49,720

Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Governing Cortical Surface Area Overgrowth in iPSC-derived Neural Cells from Longitudinally Characterized Autism Individuals 2018 Award: $49,720 Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder exhibit larger brain volumes early in life. By mimicking and studying brain cells from subjects with ASD and subjects without ASD, Dr. Hazlett and her team are working to determine the underlying pathologies of brain overgrowth. These results will help identify biological markers which will inform more personalized early treatments for ASD. Need/Problem: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an etiologically heterogeneous disorder that affects 1 in 68 individuals, and confers a lifelong burden to most affected individuals and their families. ASD has been consistently characterized by early brain overgrowth in neuroimaging studies. Grant Summary: We will generate and study neural cells from individuals with ASD and matched controls who have been profiled [...]

16 04, 2019

Genomics of Postpartum Depression–Action towards Causes and Treatment (gPACT); PACT for the Cure | Meltzer-Brody & Sullivan | $99,000

Genomics of Postpartum Depression–Action towards Causes and Treatment (gPACT); PACT for the Cure 2015 Award: $99,000 Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody helped assemble an international team of researchers and clinicians who, using open-source Apple software, could gather information from thousands of women experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD). Selected participants would submit DNA samples for researchers to compare against DNA from women who have never experienced depression. With this study, Dr. Meltzer-Brody and her team hope to discover genetic factors that could lead to better prediction, diagnosis, and treatment for perinatal mental illnesses. Need/Problem: Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP) affect millions of women worldwide and are the leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. Research on the causes of PPD and PPP are greatly underfunded leaving researchers and clinicians with an incomplete understanding of who is at risk. Grant [...]

16 04, 2019

Single Cell Transcriptional Profiling to Identify Novel Neurocircuit Targets for Reproductive Mood Disorders | Stuber | $45,000

Single cell transcriptional profiling to identify novel neurocircuit targets for reproductive mood disorders 2016 Award: $45,000 It’s known that reproductive mood disorders—like postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopausal depression—are largely caused by fluctuations of natural hormones like estradiol and progesterone. What is less well understood is how, or why, particular types of neurons in the brain respond to these hormones. Researchers will perform a detailed study of individual neurons reacting to a variety of hormonal conditions, in the hopes that we can design more targeted therapies for reproductive mood disorders. Need/Problem: There are few rational strategies for targeting neuronal cell types in the brain for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disease. We propose to utilize state of the art high throughput sequencing technology establish an experimental and computational pipeline to quantitatively assess the number of cell types on the [...]

16 04, 2019

Characterizing the Hormone Sensitive Phenotype of Postpartum Depression: An Experimental Investigation of Mood and Behavior | Schiller | $39,357

Characterizing the Hormone Sensitive Phenotype of Postpartum Depression: An Experimental Investigation of Mood and Behavior 2017 Award: $39,357 Prior research has demonstrated that changing hormone levels trigger depression in some women already at high risk for postpartum depression. The current study will identify women for whom changing hormones trigger depression using a much less cumbersome approach. By more easily identifying women who are sensitive to changes in hormones, it will be a major step toward preventing postpartum depression. Need/Problem: Despite decades of research, little is known about the biological causes of postpartum depression. Our past research showed that changes in pregnancy hormone levels cause depression in some women, but at present, there is no simple way to identify these women. Grant Summary: This research provides a novel approach to testing risk for postpartum depression. Goals and Projected Outcomes: The [...]

16 04, 2019

Depression Susceptibility in Adolescent Females: Estrogen Variability, Stress Exposure, and Fronto-Limbic Brain Dynamics | Andersen | $38,710

Depression Susceptibility in Adolescent Females: Estrogen Variability, Stress Exposure, and Fronto-Limbic Brain Dynamics 2018 Award: $38,710 Puberty is characterized by dramatic reproductive hormone instability, heightened interpersonal stress and an increased risk for depression, especially for girls. A sensitivity to normal changes in ovarian hormones (e.g., estrogen) during reproductive events has been shown to provoke mood symptoms in vulnerable women; however, the relationship between hormone changes and depression symptoms has not been examined in girls during the pubertal transition. This study will determine the impact of hormone variability on neurobiological systems (brain activity and cortisol stress responses) known to influence affective (mood) states. Foundation of Hope funding provides the opportunity to use a novel multimodal approach involving precise measures of hormone variability and neurophysiological responses to acute challenge (laboratory stress task) to advance our understanding of the neurobiological basis of [...]

16 04, 2019

Achieving Synergy with Multimodal Brain Stimulation: Electricity meets Magnetism | Frohlich | $156,613

Achieving Synergy with Multimodal Brain Stimulation: Electricity meets Magnetism 2016 Award: $156,613 Dr. Frohlich’s current exploration of noninvasive brain stimulation began with a Foundation grant in 2012, and continued in 2015 with an additional $200,000 award. The third phase of this project attempts to integrate electrical and magnetic stimulation—two methods often used separately—to target specific trouble spots and improve overall brain function. Need/Problem: One effective treatment strategies for mental illnesses is to combine medications to achieve maximal therapeutic benefit. In contrast, despite the emergence of multiple, different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation for the treatment of mental illnesses, very little is known about the potential therapeutic synergy of different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation. Grant Summary: This is the first study of its kind to investigate the targeted combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) [...]

16 04, 2019

Mechanism of Action of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder | Frohlich | $100,000

Mechanism of Action of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder 2018 Award: $100,000 Major depressive disorder (MDD) has devastating effects on patients and their families, including an increased risk of suicide. Thanks to previous FOH funding, promising results have demonstrated that transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is a safe and effective therapy for MDD symptoms. This study is an expansion of previous projects, and will collect brain rhythm data to determine individualized response levels to the stimulation. Need/Problem: Depression is a serious illness and many patients do not find relief with the current treatment options. Our Carolina Center for Neurostimulation has pioneered a novel form of non-invasive brain stimulation that applies a very weak but smart current to modulate brain rhythms. This potential new treatment is very safe (most patients cannot even feel the [...]

16 04, 2019

The Genomics of Severe Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Response to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) | Soda | $39,990

The Genomics of Severe Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Response to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) 2018 Award: $39,990 Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It can lead to suicide which is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds. We need to identify patients with the most severe forms of depression, characterize them well, and include these patients in genomic studies. We know that such an approach will lead to new discoveries faster than studying patients with more mild forms of these disorders. We think that we have a way to do this. We want to identify people that have been treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression and include them in genetic studies. We think that findings from this study can lead to predictive algorithms. We want to learn whether we can, very early on [...]

16 04, 2019

Functional Development Abnormalities Associated with Genetic Risk of Bipolar during Infancy | Gao | $71,302

Functional Development Abnormalities Associated with Genetic Risk of Bipolar during Infancy 2013 Award: $71,302 Bipolar disorder (BD) is a common psychiatric illness affecting ~1% to 2% of the population, which is characterized by affective symptoms varying between depression and mania. However, there is a profound lack of knowledge regarding the brain’s functional disruption mechanism underlying this disorder, especially during early childhood which is increasingly recognized as a critical time for this neurodevelopmental disorder. The use of neuroimaging technology to study infants with a genetic risk of BD (biological mother diagnosed with BD) provides a wonderful opportunity to investigate the earliest functional disruption mechanisms related to this disorder, which is critical for the derivation of new early diagnosis and intervention strategies. Dr. Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research Center (BRIC) at the University of North Carolina [...]

16 04, 2019

Predicting Early Brain Development via Deep Learning of DNA | Xia | $39,742

Predicting Early Brain Development via Deep Learning of DNA 2018 Award: $39,742 The state-of-art data science with the most advanced machine learning algorithm such as deep learning provides us new opportunity to uncover the genetic code underlying in millions of genetic markers across the human genome. Our research project will build the most advanced deep convolutional neural network utilizing DNA markers to predict cognitive function of early age. We will also adapt this deep learning framework to predict other psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder so that the DNA code of human genome about mental disorders can be decoded. Need/Problem: Innovative methodological strategies are urgently needed to predict short-term and long-term cognitive outcome at early life so that early intervention can be implemented before any cognitive delay appears. Grant Summary: This grant is to develop deep [...]