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
In a study of over 1,000 children, we discovered that the fundamental architecture of the brain is established by age 2 and that children at risk for schizophrenia already exhibit abnormalities in brain development during infancy.
The UNC Early Brain Development study is a longitudinal study of brain development in children, including children at risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, from birth through age 10 years. The study has defined normal brain development in early childhood for the first time and found that the fundamental architecture of the human brain is in place by age two, indicating that the abnormal brain systems found in psychiatric disorders are likely established in very early childhood. The team has also shown that infants at risk for schizophrenia already exhibit abnormalities in brain development. This work is ongoing and seeks to identify early markers of risk for psychiatric illness, so that interventions to reduce the ultimate risk of psychiatric illness can be targeted to very early childhood, when brain systems are being established.
The Foundation of Hope funded the first studies that allowed the team to develop infant imaging and get their first grants.