Nine School of Medicine Researchers Awarded Research Grants For Schizophrenia, Depression; Two Receive Highest Honor

Nine Yale School of Medicine researchers have been awarded research grants from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).

Nine Yale School of Medicine researchers have been awarded research grants from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).

Two of the Yale researchers – George R. Heninger, M.D., professor of psychiatry, and Robert H. Roth, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and pharmacology – are among 16 scientists around the world to receive NARSAD’s highest honor, the 1998 Distinguished Investigators Award. Seven of the researchers are among 130 scientists worldwide to receive NARSAD’s 1998 Young Investigators Award.

“NARSAD awards are very prestigious and hard to get,” says Benjamin S. Bunney, M.D., chair of psychiatry at the School of Medicine. “The remarkable number of our investigators receiving these awards, and especially the fact that Doctors Heninger and Roth received the coveted Distinguished Investigators Award, demonstrates the enormous strengths that this department has in schizophrenia and depression research. These awards will allow our investigators to continue to be pioneers in the search for causes and cures for these devastating brain disorders.”

As recipients of the Distinguished Investigator Awards, Heninger and Roth will both receive $100,000 to support their work for one year. Heninger’s research aims to identify the immune abnormalities in some patients with schizophrenia. His work could lead to new treatments directed at the cause of the illness. Roth is studying the psychiatric symptoms associated with marijuana abuse.

Recipients of the 1998 Young Investigators Award will receive $30,000 for two years to research such topics as speech and language dysfunction in schizophrenia, cocaine dependence and depression, and the environmental and genetic factors involved in depression. The winners and their research projects are:

– Meenakshi Alreja, assistant professor of psychiatry, will study the effects of anti-depressant treatment and stress on human depression.

– John P. Alsobrook, associate research scientist in the Child Study Center, will analyze genes that may be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

– Noboru Hiroi, associate research scientist in psychiatry, will study ways of reducing the side effects of drugs used to improve the voluntary motor skills of schizophrenic patients.

– Sheena Josselyn, postdoctoral associate in psychiatry, will study the neural basis of inhibition of fear and/or anxiety. Her research aims to find possible treatment of anxiety disorders.

– Karen Y. Mechanic, postgraduate year IV resident in psychiatry, will examine the relationship between cocaine dependence and depression.

– Marc N. Potenza, postgraduate year IV resident in psychiatry, will study the link between the response to stress and the onset of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression.

– Alexander A. Stevens, postdoctoral associate in diagnostic radiology, will map areas of the brain responsible for language to gain a better understanding of how schizophrenia affects language processing.

NARSAD, a nonprofit organization based in Great Neck, N.Y., focuses on funding research into the causes and potential treatments of such mental disorders as schizophrenia, depression and related psychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism.

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