The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with mental illness through the transformative power of neuroscience and psychiatric research, will hold its 25th Annual Mental Health Research Symposium on Friday, October 25th from 9:00 am to 4:30 p.m. at the Kaufman Music Center, located at 129 W. 67th St. in New York City.
The Foundation's 2013 Outstanding Achievement Prizewinners and select NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees will present their latest discoveries throughout the day. The Symposium is open to the public at no charge. Prior registration is required and a $20 donation is requested.
Symposium moderator Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, M.D., a member of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council as well as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, comments, "At this Symposium, you will hear the future of the nature and the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This is a unique opportunity for the public to hear directly from the world's leading neuroscience and psychiatric researchers."
The keynote address, Living a Productive Life, will be presented by Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., at the conclusion of the morning session. Dr. Saks is a bestselling author and professor of law, psychology, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the University of Southern California. She has achieved these distinctions despite her lifelong battle with schizophrenia and recounts her personal story of recovery in The New York Times bestselling book, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey through Madness.
Comments will be given by Frederick K. Goodwin, M.D., who is considered the world's leading authority on bipolar disorder. Dr. Goodwin is a former head of the National Institute of Mental Health and a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University.
The morning program features presentations with interactive Q&A:
• Integrated Approaches to Develop Improved Schizophrenia Therapies
Marc G. Caron, Ph.D., 2013 Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research, Duke University. Dr. Caron will present research in his laboratory that has shown that all clinically effective antipsychotics block the actions of the neurotransmitter dopamine by interacting with dopamine D2 receptors, which are members of a large family of proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). Dr. Caron and his colleagues have identified a novel mode of signaling for dopamine D2 receptors and are exploring how the findings can be leveraged to develop more selectively targeted and effective antipsychotics.
• Next Generation Neuropsychiatric Diagnostics and Therapeutics
Kafui Dzirasa, M.D., Ph.D., 2013 co-recipient of the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research, Duke University. Dr. Dzirasa will report on his research with animal models showing that disruptions in electrical connectivity patterns across brain networks are linked to mood and thought disorders, and that the patterns can be corrected with medication. His findings show promise of translation into a new diagnostic framework that can be used to create therapies that cure mood and thought disorders rather than simply reduce symptoms.
• Novel Approaches to Identify Functionally Selective Pathways in Schizophrenia and Antipsychotic Action:
Nikhil M. Urs, Ph.D., 2013 co-recipient of the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research, Duke University. Dr. Urs has been developing specifically engineered animal models as uniquely powerful tools for understanding the brain mechanisms that give rise to schizophrenia and other brain disorders. He will present his latest work on the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R), a common target for antipsychotics, using animal models to test antipsychotic efficacy with the goal of developing new, more effective therapeutic strategies.
• Groundbreaking New Technologies to Understand the Brain - in Illness and Health
Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D. , 2013 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience, Stanford University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr. Deisseroth will present two new technologies he has developed for learning about brain function and dysfunction. Both are considered "revolutionary" in their advancement of neuroscience and are now in use at labs all over the world. The first, called optogenetics was developed with the early support of a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant and is enabling the identification of brain mechanisms giving rise to various brain and behavior disorders. The second, called CLARITY, enables researchers for the first time to obtain a virtually transparent view of the brain's inner structure.
The afternoon program features presentations as follows:
• What Happens over Time with Youth Who Have Been Diagnosed with Bipolar Spectrum Disorders?
Boris Birmaher, M.D., 2013 co-recipient of the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research, University of Pittsburgh. A leader in the study and treatment of pediatric mood and anxiety disorders, Dr. Birmaher will report on his evaluation of a large group of youths with bipolar spectrum disorders, in particular the factors associated with good outcome, with the idea that such factors could then be fostered to promote mood stability. Significantly, his research shows that youths whose illness started later in adolescence, who had less severe depressive symptoms, less suicidality, less substance abuse, and lived in families with higher socioeconomic status were more likely to do well.