Yale Will Host Meeting April 13-15 of Leading Researchers in the Role of Glutamate in Schizophrenia and other Psychiatric Disorders

Leading researchers will gather at Yale University April 13-15 to present the latest findings about the role of glutamate - a major neurotransmitter in the brain - in a wide range of psychiatric disorders.

The conference is sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and chaired by Bita Moghaddam, professor of psychiatry at Yale, and Marina Wolf, professor and chair of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School.

Glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the brain, which means it causes neurons in the brain to fire. Any disruption of glutamate in the brain can have profound effects on behavior and other aspects of brain function. Abnormal glutamate function has been implicated in all major psychiatric disorders.

“The objective of this conference is to bring together diverse groups of basic and clinical researchers who study the role of glutamate in cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia, and disorders relating to motivation and affect, such as depression and addiction,” said Moghaddam. “This meeting, by providing a venue for presentation of cutting edge research in both basic and clinical fields, will facilitate interactions between basic scientists and clinicians.”

She said the exchange of information also may accelerate the rate at which advances in knowledge of basic mechanisms can be translated into the development of new pharmacotherapies. “Conversely, it will enable basic scientists to design experiments with greater clinical relevance,” Moghaddam said. In fact, a major goal of the meeting is to highlight novel therapeutic approaches based on the role of glutamate.

Among the presenters will be Paul Greengard, a professor of molecular and cellular neuroscience at Rockefeller University. He won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on signaling mechanisms that enable neurotransmitters to regulate brain function.

Other leading researchers who will attend this conference include: Joseph Coyle, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, who will discuss the clinical utility of glutamate-based drugs for schizophrenia; David Goldman, M.D., chief of the neurogenetics laboratory at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who will talk about the genetics of glutamate receptors; Peter Kalivas, professor and chair of physiology and neuroscience at Medical University of South Carolina, who will discuss neural circuits involved in drug craving; Marc Laruelle, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, who will discuss imaging studies showing neuronal mechanisms implicated in schizophrenia; David Lewis, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, who will discuss neuroanatomical studies on circuitry implicated in schizophrenia; Robert Malenka, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, who will discuss the role of glutamate in synaptic plasticity; and Charles O’Brien, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, who will discuss glutamate-based therapies for addiction.

The Yale researchers who will speak include Moghaddam, who will discuss the glutamate receptor mechanisms and schizophrenia; Patricia Goldman-Rakic, professor of neurobiology who will talk about cues from non-human primates into the neuronal circuitry implicated in schizophrenia; John Krystal, M.D., professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, who will discuss assessing ethanol and THC actions on glutamate neurotransmission in humans; and Gerard Sanacora, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, who will talk about clinical studies implicating glutamate neurotransmission in bipolar disorder.

The conference, which will be held at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, will include oral presentations and poster sessions. The National Institute of Mental Health and Eli Lilly and Co. are the major sponsors.

The closing date for advance registration at a reduced fee is March 7. Those interested in attending can register by email at conference@nyas.org; by fax, 212-838-5640, or by mail to the Science and Technology Meetings Department, New York Academy of Sciences, 2 East 63rd Street, New York, New York, 10021.

For further information please contact Sheryl Usmani at susmani@nyas.org

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