Research

/Research
16 04, 2019

Identifying Susceptibility Loci for Tourette’s Syndrome in a Densely Affected Pedigree | Crowley

Identifying Susceptibility Loci for Tourette’s Syndrome in a Densely Affected Pedigree Need/Problem: Tourette’s Syndrome is a highly genetic condition with no effective treatment. We need to identify the genetic causes of this disorder in order to develop treatments. Grant Summary: This grant will take advantage of an extraordinary family from England that is both large and enriched for Tourette’s Syndrome in order to identify genes associated with Tourette’s Syndrome. Goals and Projected Outcomes: The goal of our study is to identify a gene or genes with altered function in this family, that predisposes individuals to develop Tourette’s Syndrome. James J. Crowley, PhD Grant Details: Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) is a poorly-understood neuropsychiatric illness characterized by recurrent, non-rhythmic tics. Diagnostic criteria for TS require age of onset <18 years, multiple motor and at least one vocal [...]

16 04, 2019

Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation to Reduce Emotional Dysregulation in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Frolich & Elbogen

Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation to Reduce Emotional Dysregulation in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Need/Problem: Approximately one in five military veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research documents PTSD is associated with poor post-deployment adjustment in military veterans, including increased risk of suicide, homelessness, violence, criminal arrest, and unemployment. As thousands of troops return home, there is an urgent need to develop effective treatment approaches that overcome barriers, are more feasible and less time-consuming to implement, and that veterans will prefer and actually use. Grant Summary: Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) provides a safe, non-invasive, easy-to-administer, and cutting-edge technology and procedure that applies weak electric currents to the scalp to modulate rhythmic brain activity patterns. The objective of this project is to establish the feasibility of the tACS treatment and collect pilot efficacy and electroencephalogram (EEG) biomarkers data [...]

16 04, 2019

Functional Development Abnormalities Associated with Genetic Risk of Bipolar during Infancy | Gao

Functional Development Abnormalities Associated with Genetic Risk of Bipolar during Infancy 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 at Chapel Hill [...]

16 04, 2019

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

Early Brain Development via Deep Learning of DNA Award: $39,742 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 convolutional neural networks to build a predictive model for early brain development through genome-wide DNA markers and developmental trajectories of cortical thickness and surface area. Goals and Projected Outcomes: The goal of this study is to develop the first deep learning procedure to predict early brain development using data from two well-characterized population cohorts studied from birth through 2 years of age. The success of this study will present strong proof that deep learning predicting neurodevelopment and cognitive functions is effective and powerful using genome-wide DNA markers, while none of other competing [...]

16 04, 2019

Reversing the pharmacological effects of cocaine by allopregnanolone | Robinson

Reversing the pharmacological effects of cocaine by allopregnanolone Need/Problem: There is a critical need for pharmacological therapeutics to treat stimulant addiction, for which there are no approved drugs. Grant Summary: This project will test whether allopregnanolone, a neurosteroid made in the brain, can counteract key effects of stimulants. Because of their few side effects, neurosteroids may be a novel and effective way to treat stimulant use disorder. Goals and Projected Outcomes: A growing body of basic and clinical evidence suggests that neurosteroids are promising therapeutic strategies for stimulant addiction, but critical pharmacological studies are lacking. This project aims to determine the ability of allopregnanolone to reverse the pharmacological effect of cocaine in an animal model. We hypothesize that allopregnanolone will reverse the effect of cocaine to enhance dopamine release and stimulate locomotion in awake rats. The resulting data will [...]

9 07, 2018

Deep Phenotyping of Behavioral Patterns Associated with Neuropsychiatric Disease | Kato | $162,000

Deep Phenotyping of Behavioral Patterns Associated with Neuropsychiatric Disease Award: $162,000 Need/Problem: Why have advances in our understanding and treatment of mental illness lagged behind that of other biomedical conditions? To a large extent, this difference stems from the fundamental issue of diagnosis. For mental illness, diagnosis still relies exclusively on checklists of signs and symptoms, derived from observation by the clinician and self-reports from the patient. While this is critical, we can dramatically improve mental health diagnosis and treatment by fully integrating genetic, physiological, and neurocircuit information.  Much of these data rely heavily on preclinical experiments where studying genetic or neurocircuit underpinnings of mental illness. However, in preclinical models there is a clear lack of behavioral readouts that can be 1) associated with a particular psychiatric condition, and 2) clearly linked to back to molecular or circuit mechanisms. [...]

9 07, 2018

Longitudinal Assessment of Mental Health Needs of Parents with Advanced Cancer | Park | $39,000

Longitudinal Assessment of Mental Health Needs of Parents with Advanced Cancer Award: $39,000 Need/Problem: Parents with advanced cancer experience unique psychological concerns due to simultaneously raising and supporting their children while adjusting to the physical and psychological effects of life-limiting illness. Their children are at increased risk of long-term psychological effects from parental cancer and early parental loss and their caregivers or partners suffer from high rates of depression and anxiety. Grant Summary:  We plan to conduct a mixed-methods, cohort study of parents with advanced cancer who have dependent-age children using semi-structured interviews and six validated measures to examine parental concerns, coping strategies to alleviate these concerns, physical and psychological symptoms and quality of life. Goals & Projected Outcomes: The goals are the following: 1)    To identify areas of peak psychological symptom burden that are amenable to future intervention [...]

9 07, 2018

Deconstructing Maternal Circuit Elements that Underlie Anxiety and Motivation | McHenry & Stuber | $40,000

Deconstructing Maternal Circuit Elements that Underlie Anxiety and Motivation Award: $40,000 Need/Problem: Approximately 13-20% of perinatal women are afflicted by psychiatric illnesses, such as postpartum depression. These conditions impair maternal health, compromise mother-infant interactions, and have adverse implications for the developing offspring. Grant Summary: Postpartum disorders may stem from perturbations in brain circuits that ordinarily act to promote maternal health and offspring care. However, a functional neural circuit level of understanding is poorly understood. For more effective treatments, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie both normal and pathological postpartum adaptations. The proposed research aims to establish a novel preclinical approach in a mouse model to elucidate the function of maternal circuit elements that affect infant care, anxiety, and motivation. Goals & Projected Outcomes: The proposed research aims to establish a novel [...]

9 07, 2018

Oxytocin Effects on Cocaine-induced Maternal Neglect | Grewen | $40,000

Oxytocin Effects on Cocaine-induced Maternal Neglect Award: $40,000 Need/Problem:  At least 1% to 3% of women in the U.S. use cocaine during pregnancy. Prenatal cocaine abuse is linked to problems with mother-infant bonding and attachment, including child neglect and abuse. This vulnerability may derive, in part, from altered maternal responses to infant cries and other signals, and from reduced maternal nurturing behaviors such as holding, touching and interacting with infant. Mothers who have used cocaine during pregnancy report difficulty interacting with their infants, express subtle hostility (insensitivity and irritability) during feeding and play periods, and perceive infant cries as less arousing and requiring less maternal intervention. They tend to pick up and hold their infants less often than other mothers, even though their infants cry more. These alterations in early mothering behaviors parallel those seen in animal studies of [...]

9 07, 2018

gPACT – a rapid large & inexpensive study of Postpartum Depression | Meltzer-Brody | $99,000

gPACT – a rapid large & inexpensive study of Postpartum Depression 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. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D. Need/Problem:  Despite its prevalence—up to 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression—and its devastating effects on women and their families, PPD (and, by extension, PPP) is a poorly understood condition. Grant Summary: In an effort to combat this issue, Dr. Samantha [...]