Research Discoveries

2 05, 2019

Autism Pre-Symptomatic Prevention

Autism Pre-Symptomatic Prevention Gabriel Dichter, Ph.D. UNC Department of Psychiatry Professor of Psychiatry Director, Clinical Affective Neuroscience Lab Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts the functioning of brain regions that process social information. Dr. Dichter’s Foundation of Hope funded research has used behavioral econometrics, eyetracking, electrophysiology, and functional brain imaging to investigate neurobiological mechanisms, inflammatory pathways, and treatment response in ASD. This work has tremendous potential for pre-symptomatic prevention in children at risk, as well as the development of early interventions. Autism Pre-Symptomatic Prevention Joseph Piven, M.D. UNC Department of Psychiatry Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology Director, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities Dr. Piven's work has identified potential targets for intervention in autism as well as demonstrating that brain scans in infants can accurately predict which infants will go on [...]

2 05, 2019

Cutting-Edge Neuroimaging Approaches

Cutting-Edge Neuroimaging Approaches Garret Stuber, Ph.D. UNC Department of Psychiatry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Cell Biology & Physiology Developed cutting-edge neuroimaging approaches that led to the discovery of how adaptive and maladaptive behaviors are controlled by dynamic changes in networks involving the frontal cortex, a region implicated in many psychiatric illnesses. One of Dr. Stuber's proudest and highest impact research accomplishments was developing novel approaches for deciphering how frontal cortical network dynamics control adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. Frontal cortex is known to be critical for controlling decision making, impulsivity, and general executive function. Disruption in frontal cortical function is thought to be a driver of many forms of mental illness, ranging from addiction, depression, and schizophrenia. The problem is, neuroscientists and psychiatrists still have a very poor mechanistic understanding of how different cell types in the frontal [...]

2 05, 2019

First Ever FDA-Approved PPD Treatment

First Ever FDA-Approved PPD TreatmentSamantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D., M.P.H.UNC Department of PsychiatryAssad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair of PsychiatryDirector, UNC Center for Women's Mood DisordersPerformed the first study of a novel compound – a neurosteroid – for rapid treatment of postpartum depression, a treatment that will soon be available to the 10-15% of women who develop postpartum depression. As a perinatal psychiatrist and clinician-scientist, Dr. Meltzer-Brody's  proudest and highest impact research accomplishment is serving as the academic PI for the brexanolone clinical trials in the treatment of postpartum depression (PPD). Now approved by the FDA, this is the first pharmacotherapy specifically developed and approved for PPD. PPD is a debilitating mental illness that impacts at least 10-15% of women that give birth. This research is directly tied to Dr. Meltzer-Brody's long-term interest in understanding the pathophysiology and biomarker signature of [...]

2 05, 2019

Schizophrenia Early Diagnosis

Schizophrenia Early Diagnosis John Gilmore, M.D. UNC Department of Psychiatry Thad and Alice Eure Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry Vice Chair for Research and Scientific Affairs Director, UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health Funds from the Foundation of Hope helped establish the UNC Early Brain Development study, through which researchers discovered that the fundamental architecture of the brain is established by age two, and that children at risk for schizophrenia already exhibit abnormalities in brain development during infancy. This ongoing work seeks to identify early markers of risk for psychiatric illness so that interventions can be targeted to very early childhood when brain systems are being established. Schizophrenia Early Diagnosis John Gilmore, M.D. UNC Department of Psychiatry Thad and Alice Eure Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry Vice Chair for Research and Scientific Affairs [...]