Campus & Community

NARSAD awards $720,000 to Harvard researchers

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Supports breakthrough brain and behavior research

Twelve from Harvard are among 214 researchers named NARSAD Young Investigators.

Young Investigators represent a new generation of researchers who will pioneer breakthroughs in mental health research. Young Investigator grants are catalysts for additional funding, providing researchers with “proof of concept” for their work. On average, NARSAD Young Investigators have used their grants to leverage an additional 19 times their original grant amount and some have gone on to receive much more than that after proving initial hypotheses with the first NARSAD grant support. Receiving up to $60,000 over two years, Young Investigators pursue brain and behavior research related to schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Harvard researchers receiving grants include:

Heather C. Brenhouse, instructor in psychiatry, aims to investigate a link between early life stress, inflammatory responses, and developmental effects in the cortex of the brain that may lead to schizophrenia and depression in genetically at-risk people.

Joan A. Camprodon, clinical fellow in psychiatry, will explore the functional connectivity of mood and reward networks in the brain as they relate to major depressive disorder.

Marilyn C. Cornelis, research associate in nutrition, will explore the complex interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors in the development of depression and anxiety disorders.

Atilla Gonenc, research fellow in psychiatry, will use advanced brain imaging techniques to detect abnormalities in children and adolescents with depression.

C. Geoffrey Lau, postdoctoral fellow in molecular and cellular biology, is examining how the malfunction of PV+ interneurons may contribute to schizophrenia.

Rhiannon J. Luyster, research fellow in pediatrics, will seek to clarify the relationship between visual attention to emotional faces and the brain’s response to them in people with autism spectrum disorder.

Jessica J. Noggle, research fellow in medicine, will test yoga’s ability to reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality in PTSD patients and also reduce PTSD symptom severity.

Ann K. Shinn, instructor in psychiatry, will study the pathophysiology underlying auditory hallucinations common in people with schizophrenia and mood disorders like bipolar disorder.

Luke E. Stoeckel, clinical fellow in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, will investigate how nicotine enhances reward mechanisms in the brains of people with schizophrenia, 74 to 92 percent of whom smoke as compared with 22 percent of the general population.

Gordana D. Vitaliano, instructor in psychiatry, aims to develop new nanoprobes for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of microglial neuroinflammation in schizophrenia, leading to ways to better monitor progression of disease and recovery.

Jennifer B. Wagner, research fellow in psychiatry, will apply state-of-the-art neuroimaging to study infants who may be at risk for autism spectrum disorder on the basis of an older sibling with a confirmed diagnosis.

Tracy L. Young-Pearse, instructor in neurobiology, aims to understand normal and abnormal neuronal development through analyses of the mechanisms of a gene linked to schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, both of which impair cognitive function.