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NIMH Awards Howard University $6.5 Million

Press Release

Howard University Hospital Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine (HUCM) has been awarded $6.5 million from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for a five-year project to implement and develop research studies pertaining to mood and anxiety disorders.

"Producing the studies for the HUCM/NIMH project is extremely important. State-of-the-art research will be implemented at a historically Black institution that has strong contacts to the African American community," said William B. Lawson, professor and chair, department of psychiatry at the college, and the principal investigator for the NIMH award.

The multi-year project will look at ways to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder; to treat bipolar illness and treatment-resistant depression; and, with the aid of imaging, genetic and biological markers, to help evaluate cultural and ethnic differences in diagnosis and treatment outcomes. Participants will include adolescents and adults who have been exposed to community violence and suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, people with diabetes who also suffer from depression, and children and adults with bipolar disorder. Researchers will also study comparable groups of participants who do not suffer with these disorders.

"Congress encourages inclusion of minority groups in clinical trials and a more ethnic and racially diverse pool of mental health investigators. I am delighted to be working with William Lawson and Howard University towards this goal," said Dennis Charney, M.D., director of the new mood and anxiety disorder intramural research program at NIMH, who will work with Dr. Lawson to craft the studies for the collaborative program.

Floyd J. Malveaux, M.D., Ph.D., vice provost, health affairs, and dean, HUCM, has been developing the concept for such a co-localization project between the University and NIMH for more than five years. "I am quite excited that we are now collaborating on research that will yield valuable information about illnesses affecting a significant number of our community members," he said.

"A critical focus of this collaboration will be to identify barriers that inhibit
African Americans from participating in studies of mental health," said Richard K. Nakamura, Ph.D., acting director of NIMH. "By providing opportunities for African Americans with serious mental illnesses to participate in research studies, we can learn how to improve and design more culturally sensitive treatments."

Dr. Lawson, who is past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America and Section Chair for Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for the National Medical Association, has received funds for research on diagnosing and treating the severely mentally ill. Dr. Charney is a national authority on post-traumatic stress disorder research and the neurobiology and drug treatment of serious mood and anxiety disorders. In September, 2000, Dr. Charney joined NIMH as director of the new program.

For more information contact Audrey L. Vaughan at Howard University, Office of Public Relations, (202) 806-5015, or the NIMH Press Office at (301) 443-4536 or E-mail at nimhpress@nih.gov.

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About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website .