Thursday, June 23, 2011

NIH - Translational Neuroscience for Schizophrenia

This is geeky stuff, but it's also very cool. It's impressive that we are beginning to see what goes wrong in the schizophrenic brain at the genetic and molecular levels. Now if we can only figure out why.

Neuroscience Seminar Series - Translational Neuroscience for Schizophrenia

Dr. Akira Sawa is the Director of the Program in Molecular Psychiatry and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Neuroscience Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. He received his MD and PhD from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 1990 and 1994, respectively. From there he moved to Johns Hopkins University to do postdoctoral work with Dr. Solomon Snyder, and he subsequently became part of the Hopkins faculty.

The research in his laboratory is directed towards understanding the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric illnesses, especially schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders, at the molecular level. In a bottom-up approach, the lab focuses on molecular targets, such as disease risk gene products and/or key cellular mediators, testing how such molecular targets are functionally related with each other in cells and neuronal networks of animal models, and how they contribute to development of disease phenotypes during a time course. A recent study indicates that schizophrenia-associated alteration of Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia (DISC1) leads to disturbance of proper development in cerebral cortex. In a top-down approach, clinical information and patient tissues are analyzed towards identifying novel molecular targets or new biomarkers of disease. Biopsy of olfactory epithelium from schizophrenics is used to characterize neuronal cells, and lymphoblastoid cells collected from peripheral blood are analyzed with microarray and proteomic approaches to identify novel and useful biomarkers for schizophrenia.
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