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Research to Test Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction in Schizophrenia

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a four-year, $9 million contract to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and five other academic medical centers to create a network of Treatment Units for Research on Neurocognition and Schizophrenia (TURNS). The research will test the effectiveness of new drug treatments for the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia. The project will be directed by Stephen R. Marder, M.D., at UCLA with investigators at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; Duke University, Durham; Washington University, St. Louis; and Nathan Kline Institute, New York.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease. Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime—more than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year. Although available medications are reasonably effective in treating the positive symptoms of the illness such as hallucinations and delusions, recent research indicates that cognitive impairments in areas such as attention, memory and problem solving are responsible for much of the disability associated with the disease.

“Unfortunately, the medications currently available do little to remedy this aspect of the illness. Consequently, many patients have serious residual symptoms and only one in five are able to recover sufficiently to work,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH.

The NIMH approach is built on the assumption that progress in developing new treatments will require collaboration between the best academic, government, and industry scientists. The TURNS is one component of a multipronged NIMH effort to stimulate academic and industry sponsored research focused on cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. It follows completion of the Measurement and Treatment Research for Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS). The goals of MATRICS are to identify the most promising science-based ideas regarding the neurochemical basis of these deficits, and to achieve a broad academic, industry, and regulatory agreement on the best way to measure cognition in clinical trials.

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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 .