What We Fund
The Foundation of Hope funds groundbreaking mental illness research projects that explore the biological, neurological and genetic bases of mental illness and forge paths to improved diagnosis and treatment.
Through its seed grant funding model, the Foundation awards relatively small grants—typically between $35,000 and $40,000—to qualifying researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Psychiatry. Each project functions much the same as a startup business: a small, but promising idea that needs an initial investment to grow.
Having proved their mettle, many Foundation-backed projects receive thousands or millions of dollars in subsequent investment from private organizations and the National Institute of Health.
The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness will award over $478,000 for eight research grants at the Department of Psychiatry at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in its continuing efforts to mitigate the devastating effects of mental illness:
- Dr. Alana Campbell • Award: $92,932 • “Anxiety and emotion in parent-child dyads: A multimodal study”
- Dr. Sara Faccidomo • Award: $39,565 • “A novel glutamatergic mechanism for the treatment of cocaine and opioid use disorders, and co-occurring anxiety”
- Dr. Hiroyuki Kato • Award: $40,092 • “Circuit-level investigation of global hypoconnectivity in the sensory neocortex of a mouse model for autism”
- Dr. Samuel McLean • Award: $59,168 • “Written exposure therapy to improve recovery among sexual assault survivors”
- Dr. Leslie Morrow • Award: $98,500 • “Biomarkers of systemic inflammation in Alcohol Use Disorder”
- Dr. Juan Carlos Prieto • Award: $66,691 • “Data driven brain shape analysis framework and explainable AI”
- Dr. Danielle Swales • Award: $40,000 • “Hormone flux and the emergence of irritability during pregnancy: Investigating the trajectory and neurobiological correlates of an under recognized mood state”
- Dr. Mengsen Zhang and Dr. Tobias Schwippel • Award $41,080 • “Network neuroscience of a novel brief intervention for stress and depression symptoms in college students”
Press release coming soon.
The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness will award over $340,000 for research grants to seven investigators from the Department of Psychiatry at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in its efforts to continue to combat the devastating effects of mental illness:
- Dr. Brenna Maddox • Award: $39,992 • “Biobehavioral Markers of Suicide Risk in Female Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum”
- Dr. Camden Matherne • Award: $40,396 • “Co-Occurrence of Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction and Feeding and eating Disorders in Adolescence: prevalence, complications, and clinical management”
- Dr. Rob McClure • Award: $101,078 • “A Pilot Study of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Treatment-Resistant Depression: acute changes, duration of effect and predictors of response”
- Dr. Margo Nathan • Award: $39,617 • “The Comorbidity of Depression and Cardiovascular Disease in Midlife Women: investigating novel biological pathways of risk”
- Dr. Julianna Prim • Award: $40,000 • “Monitoring Affective State Change with Wearable Technology: assessing physiological and behavioral mechanisms in Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”
- Dr. Justin Riddle • Award: $38,280 • “Striatum-Targeted Anhedonia Rapid Treatment (START): a novel transcranial magnetic stimulation paradigm for treating symptoms of anhedonia in depression”
- Dr. Xiaoming Zeng • $41,302 • “Developing and Evaluating a Computable Phenotype for Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia”
Continuing its efforts to curb the debilitating effects of mental illness, the Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness will award almost $475,000 for ten research grants to thirteen investigators from the Department of Psychiatry at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
- Drs. Jessica Baker & Crystal Schiller • Award: $39,065 • “Probing the Neural Substrates of Bulimia Nervosa”
- Dr. Gabriel Dichter • Award: $50,000 • “A Stimulus PET/MR Study of Gender Differences in Neuroinflammation in Autism”
- Dr. Serena Fiacco • Award: $31,107 • “Depression in the Menopause Transition: Stress and inflammation as Pathways of Risk”
- Dr. Jessica Girault • Award: $39,718 • “Identifying the role of parental traits in explaining phenotypic variability in children with neurogenetic developmental disorders: towards early individualized intervention”
- Dr. Hiroyuki Kato • Award: $40,000 • “Dissection of Top-down Cortical Circuits Underlying Auditory Oddball Response, a Biomarker for Schizophrenia”
- Dr. Mary Kimmel • Award: $42,000 • “Microbiome and Methylation (M&M): A Source of Information for Precision Medicine”
- Drs. Zoe McElligott & Hyejung Won • $60,000 • “Probing Gene-Environment Interactions in Schizophrenia and Stress: Integrating Human GWAS and Mouse Models”
- Dr. A. Leslie Morrow • $48,070 • “Mechanisms of Brexanolone Therapeutics in Post-Partum Depression”
- Dr. Eliza Park • $39,997 • “A web-based intervention to prove mental health outcomes among newly diagnosed parents with cancer”
- Drs. Anthony Zannas & Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera • $85,000 • “A transitional approach to identify biomarkers of COVID-19 related social stress in healthcare workers”
We are incredibly excited to announce that UNC’s Dr. Zoe McElligott and her gifted team of scientists just received a $2 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to continue her study of opioid withdrawal. This new grant seeks to uncover how opioid withdrawal affects the areas of the brain involved in alertness, arousal, and readiness for action.
The Foundation of Hope invested $50,000 in critical seed funding just 10 months ago into Dr. McElligott’s project, “Evaluating Oxytocin in Opioid Withdrawal: A Translational Study.” Initial results from that study led to this valuable scientific accomplishment and the $2 million in leveraged funds.
June 19, 2019
In its continuing efforts to curb the debilitating effects of mental illness, the Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness will award over $480,000 in research grants to seven investigators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
- Dr. Jessica Baker • Award: $46,942 • “A Mechanistic Examination of Continuous-Cycle Oral Contraceptive Administration in Bulimia Nervosa”
- Dr. Paul Geiger • Award: $38,400 • “Depression in the Menopause Transition: Cortisol Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Impairment as Mechanisms of Risk”
- Dr. Zoe McElligott • Award: $50,000 • “Evaluating Oxytocin in Opioid Withdrawal: A Translational Study”
- Dr. Rebekah Nash • $39,886 • “Genetic Risk Factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients”
- Dr. Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera • $200,000 • “Dissecting the Neural Circuits of Hyperarousal States in Psychiatry”
- Dr. Guorong Wu • $39,069 • “Quantifying the brain developmental trajectory of autism-associated brain overgrowth using 3D cellular resolution imaging”
- Dr. Anthony Zannas • $75,000 • “Epigenetic Mechanism of Post-traumatic Stress After Sexual Assault”
Read the full press release (opens in new tab as PDF).
We are immensely proud to announce that a team of UNC researchers has received FDA approval for the first drug specifically developed to treat postpartum depression (PPD). In a five-year study sponsored by Sage Therapeutics, project leader Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody conducted the first open-label study of the drug brexanolone—which will be marketed under the name Zulresso—and participated in phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials.
While the Foundation of Hope did not directly fund the development of brexanolone, we did play an important role in the early stages that led to this breakthrough. Support from the Foundation helped to establish the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders and funded early research of Dr. Meltzer-Brody’s into the pathology of PPD.