Research

/Research
19 09, 2019

Epigenetic Mechanisms of Post-traumatic Stress and Depression after Sexual Assault | Dr. Anthony Zannas | $75,000

 Epigenetic Mechanisms of Post-traumatic Stress and Depression After Sexual Assault Award: $75,000 More than 40 million Americans each year present to US emergency departments (EDs) for evaluation after trauma exposure. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and posttraumatic major depression (PMD) are common, morbid outcomes among trauma-exposed survivors that greatly reduce mental and physical health. Posttraumatic interventions to prevent PTSD and PMD are very limited, because the molecular underpinnings of these outcomes remain poorly understood. Need/Problem: National surveys indicate that 1 in 5 adult US women are sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and posttraumatic major depression (PMD) are common, morbid outcomes among adult women sexual assault (SA) survivors that greatly reduce mental and physical health. Posttraumatic interventions to prevent PTSD and PMD after SA are very limited, because the molecular underpinnings of these outcomes remain poorly understood. [...]

12 09, 2019

Genetic Risk Factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients | Dr. Rebekah Nash | $39,886

Genetic Risk Factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients Award: $39,886 Medical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be triggered by any number of surgical or medical interventions or critical illness. For example, patients awaiting a solid organ transplant face the ever-present threat of death if a matching organ does not become available; following transplantation, they live with the ongoing risk of organ rejection. Currently, we are unable to accurately predict who will suffer from PTSD or other neuropsychiatric symptoms following transplantation. However, certain genetic variants have been associated with PTSD in the general population, and could serve as susceptibility factors for the transplant population. In this project, we are testing whether these variants can help us understand if, how, and why certain patients will develop PTSD and other neuropsychiatric symptoms following solid organ transplantation. Need/Problem: Relative [...]

11 09, 2019

Evaluating Oxytocin in Opioid Withdrawal: A Translational Study | Dr. Zoe McElligott | $50,000

Evaluating oxytocin in opioid withdrawal: a translational study Award: $50,000 As the opioid epidemic continues to spread in the United States, it’s important to discover new and more effective treatments. Using a preclinical model of opioid use disorder (OUD) in mice, we will investigate the ability of the hormone oxytocin to alleviate the physical opioid withdrawal symptoms, sleep dysregulation, and protracted affective behaviors. Need/Problem: e are currently experiencing a global opioid epidemic; however, the prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) is especially visible in the US, where drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death. Individuals who are dependent on opioids continue to take these drugs despite the negative consequences to their lives and the risk of death. A major factor driving this persistent drug taking is because opioid withdrawal is both a physically and mentally traumatic [...]

5 09, 2019

Depression in the Menopause Transition: Cortisol Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Impairment as Mechanisms of Risk | Dr. Paul Geiger | $38,400

Depression in the menopause transition: cortisol circadian rhythms and sleep impairment as mechanisms of risk Award: $38,400 The menopause transition (MT) is a vitally important, yet understudied, period of time in women’s health. Women in the MT experience significant hormonal changes (e.g., estrogen), are at a 2-4-fold increased risk for developing significant depressive symptoms, and report substantial changes in sleep health. In this project, we will examine the role of hormone variability on sleep impairment as a potential mechanism for the development of depression. Need/Problem: The menopause transition (MT) is a critical time period in women’s health, characterized by changes in reproductive hormones (changes in estrogen), a 2-4-fold increase risk for major depression (MDD), and the emergence of significant sleep impairment. To date, experimentally controlled sleep science research in women’s health is scant. Grant Summary: This research utilizes a [...]

3 09, 2019

A Mechanistic Examination of Continuous-Cycle Oral Contraceptive Administration in Bulimia Nervosa | Dr. Jessica Baker | $46,942

A Mechanistic Examination of Continuous-Cycle Oral Contraceptive Administration in Bulimia Nervosa Award: $46,942 Binge eating fluctuates in a predictable pattern over the course of the menstrual cycle, but how reproductive hormones influence these changes remains unknown. Reproductive hormones could influence binge eating through their impact on response to reward. In this project, we will stabilize reproductive hormone fluctuation in women with binge eating using oral contraceptives in order to address how this stabilization influences binge eating and reward responsivity. Understanding how reproductive hormones act on binge eating could lead to new and more effective treatments. Need/Problem: There is a major disconnect between the negative consequences of eating disorders associated with binge eating and the availability of effective treatments. Female reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may play a role in the risk for binge eating, but it is [...]

29 08, 2019

Dissecting the Neural Circuits of Hyperarousal States in Psychiatry | Dr. Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera | $200,000

Dissecting the Neural Circuits of Hyperarousal States in Psychiatry Award: 200,000 Anxiety is a complex state consisting of cognitive, emotional, and physiological components driven by a network across multiple brain regions. In this project, we plan on studying the neural circuits that regulate the hyperarousal state that often precedes the cognitive and emotional changes. Establishing the precise neural circuits involved in hyperarousal is critical to design novel therapeutic interventions for anxiety disorders. Need/Problem: Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, but we still poorly understand how specific neural circuits in the brain are affected during these disorders. Anxiety disorders are often characterized by an amplified arousal response to anxiogenic stimuli (hyperarousal). Grant Summary: Using pre-clinical mouse models we will use state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to visualize and record the activity of hundreds of individual neurons [...]

27 08, 2019

Quantifying the Brain Developmental Trajectory of Autism-Associated Brain Overgrowth Using 3D Cellular Resolution Imaging | Dr. Guorong Wu | $39,069

Quantifying the Brain Developmental Trajectory of Autism-Associated Brain Overgrowth Using 3D Cellular Resolution Imaging Award: $39,069 We aim to develop high throughput computational tools for 3D light-sheet microscopy images to quantify the brain developmental trajectory of autism-associated brain overgrowth. The computational tools developed in this project will be used to study cortical development in the mouse brain, including how typical development is altered by an autism-associated genetic mutation. Need/Problem: Alterations in brain development are associated with a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many studies demonstrate that mouse models re-capitulate a core human phenotype, brain overgrowth, associated with an increase in the neural progenitor pool and that this brain overgrowth shows a regionally specific pattern. However, we do not know the cell-types that are driving the effect. And due to the limited temporal resolution of previous [...]

17 04, 2019

Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Leading to Early Brain Overgrowth

Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Leading to Early Brain Overgrowth 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 with behavioral assessments and neuroimaging since infancy in order to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to early brain overgrowth. Goals and Projected Outcomes: Insight into these mechanisms will further understanding of disease pathogenesis, delineate convergent biological pathways within a heterogeneous disorder, and will inform targeted early therapeutic intervention. Heather Hazlett Jason Stein Grant Details: Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are an excellent model system [...]

16 04, 2019

The gut microbiome and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD): A pilot study to examine the microbiome in relation to perinatal changes in stress and immune systems | Kimmel

The gut microbiome and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD): A pilot study to examine the microbiome in relation to perinatal changes in stress and immune systems Need/Problem: PMAD are common and can have grave consequences for mother including a risk of suicide and negative effects on the child’s development. However, the biologic mechanisms underlying PMAD are unclear. There is evidence that certain gut microbiota are associated with depression and anxious behaviors. Grant Summary: This grant is a novel approach to studying PMAD by studying the microbiota of women across the perinatal period (pregnancy and the postpartum time period) in relation to the development of depression and anxiety. Goals and Projected Outcomes: The goal of the study is to collect and analyze the gut microbiota samples in each trimester and 8 weeks postpartum from women with histories of mood [...]

16 04, 2019

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

Genomics of Postpartum Depression–Action towards Causes and Treatment (gPACT); PACT for the Cure 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 Summary: This project is an innovative and novel approach to rapidly elucidate the genetic basis of PPD and PPP by conducting an extremely rapid and large genome-wide association study. This will improve detection, prevention and treatment of these conditions. Goals and Projected Outcomes: Our goal is to learn more about the biological basis of PPD and PPP by conducting a large genome-wide association study using Apple’s newly created open-source Research Kit software. We anticipate enrolling 100,000 women in [...]