Trio of Psychiatry researchers awarded NARSAD Young Investigator Grants

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Three researchers from the Department of Psychiatry have been awarded 2013 NARSAD Young Investigator Grants by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Created to provide support for the most promising young scientists conducting neurobiological research, NARSAD Young Investigator Grants are two-year awards  that enable emerging scientists to either extend their research fellowship training or begin careers as independent research faculty.

Kathleen Cho, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Vikaas Sohal’s lab, will study parvalbumin interneurons in the prefrontal cortex. She seeks to determine how the properties of excitatory and inhibitory neurons or their interactions might be altered in ways that produce neural imbalance and give rise to abnormal brain-wave oscillations such as those observed in people with schizophrenia.

Jia Sheng Hu, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in John Rubenstein’s lab, will explore disruption in the balance between excitation and inhibition in brain activity caused by dysfunctional inhibitory neurons, a  mechanism tied to epilepsy, schizophrenia and ASD. Hu will focus on  the role of the gene Coup-TF2 in pre-natal development. The protein product of this gene has been identified as playing an important role in maintaining the distribution of inhibitory neurons in the brain.

Assistant professor Joshua Woolley, MD, PhD, will investigate the neurophysiological mechanisms of oxytocin and its prosocial effects in people with schizophrenia versus controls using magnetoencephalography (MEG). This is the first study to investigate the neurophysiological effects induced by oxytocin in schizophrenia using any imaging modality, and the first to use MEG to examine the effects of oxytocin on neural processing.


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