John Gilmore, MD

Thad & Alice Eure Distinguished Professor
Vice Chair for Research and Scientific Affairs
Director, UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health
UNC Department of Psychiatry

Established in 1999, the Thad and Alice Eure professorship provides scholarly support funds for a distinguished faculty member in the UNC Department of Psychiatry. It was awarded in 2008 to John Gilmore, MD, a renowned clinician and researcher in the field of schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Gilmore, an accomplished psychiatrist and researcher for over 30 years,  received his MD at UNC-Chapel Hill, then spent his internship year with the Department of Surgery at the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia. He completed his psychiatric residency at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, then returned to UNC-Chapel Hill for a research fellowship within the Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Gilmore’s research focuses on early childhood brain development and how it contributes to risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Current longitudinal studies include: 1) early brain development in children at risk for schizophrenia and bipolar illness, 2) a twin study to determine genetic and environmental contributions to early brain development, and 3) a study of structural brain development in normal children and its relationship to the development of attention, anxiety, and executive function. Dr. Gilmore is also co-PI of the NIMH Baby Connectome Study and of an NIMH T32 training grant for “Big Data” in Psychiatry.

Early Brain Development Study

The Eure Professorship continues to help support Dr. Gilmore and his team as they conduct the UNC Early Brain Development Study.  Dr Gilmore pioneered the use of MRIs to systematically study brain, cognitive, and behavioral development in very young children at risk for psychiatric disorders. The study officially began in 2003, after a pilot grant from the Foundation of Hope provided the early evidence of the feasibility and significance of this approach.  The study seeks to understand how early childhood brain development is altered in children at risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders and to identify imaging biomarkers of risk that allows early identification and intervention to improve outcomes.

The study enrolled over 1,000 children before birth and follows children at birth and every 2 years with brain imaging and cognitive and behavioral assessments.  Children in the study are now between the ages of 8 and 16 years, entering the age when psychiatric disorders start to emerge clinically.

The study is currently supported by 2 NIMH grants.

2020 Eure Professorship Highlights

In 2020, we’re thrilled to report the below research discoveries and scientific publications:

1. Individual differences in the brain structure of 6 year olds are present by age 1. This indicates that a large portion of what makes each human brain unique, and likely the risk for psychiatric disease associated with these individual differences, is already present in the first year of life. 

Gilmore JH, Langworthy BW, Girault JB, Fine J, Jha SC, Kim SH, Cornea E, Styner M.  Individual variation of human cortical structure is established in the first years of life.  Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. 2020; 5:971-980. PMID: 32741702.

2. Genes of risk for schizophrenia, especially those expressed in the placenta during pregnancy, interact with environmental risk factors before and during birth to alter early childhood brain structure and cognitive development.

Ursini G, Punzi G, Langworthy B, Chen Q, Xai K, Cornea E, GoldmanBD, Styner M, Knickmeyer RC, Gilmore JH*, Weinberger DR* (co-senior author). Placental genomic risk for schizophrenia predicts early neurodevelopmental outcomes.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021; 118: e2019789118.

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