Program Director/Department Chair: Robert Gregory, MD
Mind-body interface, chronic pain, sickle cell disease
Acquired/developmental learning disorders, childhood peer relations, brain:behavior relations, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders
FMRI and SPECT localization of neuropsychological functions, memory functions and prosody
The conceptual foundations of psychiatry, philosophy of medicine, ethics, psychoanalysis
Treatment issues in schizophrenia: economics of health care.
Professor Faraone has been studying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for three decades. This topic has been of much interest to him because of the disorder’s high prevalence, its association with marked distress and disability in childhood and adulthood and its personal impact on my family. His research has several foci. One line of work seeks to discover new biological pathways that will, eventually, improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder. To achieve this goal, he has been coordinating an international network of researchers that has discovered several genes that cause the disorder. He his also conducting in depth studies of the SLC9A9 gene to better understand its functioning and how it’s disruption leads to neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism. Because ADHD is also associated with aggressive behavior, substance use disorders and mood/anxiety disorders, Prof Faraone is studying the genetics of these comorbidities along with methods to predict which ADHD youth are at highest risk for these disorders. Results from these studies are disseminated via scientific publications, https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PtJmhRwAAAAJ, and via www.ADHDinAdults.com, for which he is Program Director.
Biomarkers for Psychosis in Velocardiofacial Syndrome (NIMH Grant)
Child Psychiatric Diagnosis & Treatment by Primary Care Providers
Dr. Glatt is Director of the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology & Neurobiology Laboratory (PsychGENe Lab). The mission of the PsychGENe Lab is to develop and apply methods for finding the causes of mental health and mental illness. The vision of the lab is that we will discover those causes and use that information to design interventions that treat or prevent these disorders, or foster resilience to them. We are running numerous research projects aimed at finding the genes and environmental risk factors for a wide variety of disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and substance abuse disorders, among others. Our pipeline seeks to identify “risk genes” for these disorders by studying affected individuals and families and then to reveal how such genes alter brain biology leading to a vulnerability to mental illness.
Comparative efficacy of psychotherapy and medication treatments. Psychodynamics and personality.
Borderline personality disorder, addictions, neuroscience, psychotherapy
The goal of Dr. Johnson’s research is to understand how opioids exert their effects by addressing clinical challenges that appear unrelated but are unified by an innovative theory. We propose a theory that unifies the nature of these disorders by assuming that each involves a dysregulation of the opioid system based on data suggesting that opioid dependence and fibromyalgia are associated with low opioid tone whereas autism is associated with high opioid tone. Our first challenge, therefore, is to create and validate a treatment for opioid dependence that corrects persistent hormonal changes after detoxification. Our second challenge is to treat fibromyalgia. Our third challenge is to assess whether autism is a disease of too-high opioid tone by blocking excess opioid stimulation to treat the symptoms. Opioid dependence, fibromyalgia, and autism are three disorders that cause much distress and disability but are difficult to treat. We test our theory by treating opioid dependence and fibromyalgia with low-dose naltrexone and autism with high-dose naltrexone. Our theory suggests a novel approach that could improve the quality of life of patients suffering from these debilitating disorders.
My lab studies brain development and brain function in individuals with genetic disorders. The main focus of our work is on a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS). Individuals with 22q11DS are at a 25-fold greater risk for developing schizophrenia than individuals in the general population. We examine the effects of genetic mutation, brain development, and neuropsychological function in youth with this disorder, in order to identify the factors that place youth at highest risk for developing schizophrenia. Eventually, our research may allow us to identify and provide early interventions to youth at high risk for schizophrenia, potentially easing the huge toll that schizophrenia takes on families. Another focus of our work is to determine the effectiveness of computer-based, on-line, cognitive interventions in youth with genetically based intellectual disorders. Our hope is that by demonstrating the effectiveness of on-line, cognitive interventions, we can reach and benefit many youth who may not have access to centers that are providing such interventions in person.
Epidemiology/pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia; Ego strength among inpatients & its relation to engagement in treatment; cardiovascular risk factors in patients with serious mental illness; changes in cognition in response to depression treatment
Smoking and alcohol use disorders commonly occur together. People who drink alcohol are three times more likely to smoke, and smokers are four times more likely than the general population to be dependent on alcohol. When nicotine and alcohol dependence occur together, the health risks are increased, and the chances of quitting smoking and drinking are lower. The exact mechanism of co-occurring nicotine and alcohol dependence is not clearly understood. In everyday clinical practice, interventions used for smoking cessation are not combined with treatment of alcohol dependence. Our clinical research program is focused on developing new medications to treat alcohol and nicotine dependence simultaneously. Two investigational new drugs recently tested at our division decreased drinking and/or smoking severity and prevented cognitive problems associated with smoking and drinking. Our goal is to establish the safety and efficacy of these neuroprotective agents in different patient populations. Preventing cognitive decline is of great importance to inpatients with addiction. Development of new, neuroprotective medications may reduce harm associated with heavy smoking and alcohol use.
Health Disparities, Medical Sociology, Med Education, Ethics, Research Methods, Behavioral Health, Genetics
Adaptation to type 1 and type 2 diabetes in childhood, Children and foster care, Emotional development in children
One aspect of academic psychiatry and teaching is to cultivate medical students and residents and to steer them towards understanding and conducting clinical research. In the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Schwartz and his colleagues James Megna, M.D., Adekola Alao, M.D., and others, have strong track records of involving students and residents in research. Students and residents routinely present posters at national meetings and have their work published in reputable journals. Students and residents learn how to write case histories, case series, create and conduct surveys, analyze datasets collected by faculty, and occasionally conduct prospective trials. We feel these fundamental research experiences are the gateway to launching careers in more in-depth and formal clinical research for our students and residents. Fortunately, these research experiences can be developed for a fraction of the cost of starting a new research project, but nevertheless funding for such experiences cannot be easily obtained from typical funding streams, such as the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
My research focuses on the psychosocial issues that affect patients with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes. In my work, we are developing and testing effective and practical interventions for patients with diabetes, those at risk, and their partners, to help them achieve better physical health (e.g., control of blood sugar, weight) and quality of life. We are also seeking to understand how depression and anxiety may interfere with the health of diabetes patients.
Synaptic modulation and plasticity in prefrontal circuitry; molecular mechanisms of synapse formation, maturation, and stabilization; neurobiological basis of prefrontal-related mental and brain diseases.