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NIMH Research Showcased at APA Meeting

Press Release

At the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual meeting in Atlanta next week, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will showcase advances in translating new scientific knowledge into improved treatments for mental disorders. Under the theme “From the Science of Mental Illness to Clinical Care,” this research track will spotlight NIMH’s investment in research relevant to understanding and treating disorders like schizophrenia and depression, which rank among the top ten causes of disability worldwide.

“We need to translate basic science discoveries into biomarkers, diagnostic tests, and new treatments clinicians can use to improve the lives of patients with mental disorders,” said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., who will be giving an Award Lecture entitled “Psychiatry in the Genomic Era.”

The sessions, which start Monday, May 23, 2005, will highlight scientific discoveries in the neurosciences and provide clinicians with insights to improve treatments for many mental disorders, including effective treatment approaches for schizophrenia, major affective disorders, anxiety disorders — including post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder — eating disorders, and a range of childhood conditions. In addition to Dr. Insel, the NIMH track will feature plenary lectures by Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, M.D., Michael Meaney, Ph.D., Ranja Krishnan, M.D., Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., Robert Freedman, M.D., and Daniel Weinberger, M.D.

Institute staff Wayne Fenton, M.D., Ellen Stover, Ph.D., Mayada Akil, M.D., and Catherine Roca, M.D., designed the research track to underscore the priority that NIMH attaches to translational research at multiple levels, from clinically relevant basic science to clinical trials. For example, two symposia entitled “Neuroscience for the Clinician,” chaired by Dr. Akil, will familiarize practitioners with the latest advances in genetics and functional brain imaging, with potential relevance to clinical practice.

A symposium chaired by Grayson Norquist, M.D., Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi School of Medicine, will discuss findings emerging from clinical trials of treatments in “real world” settings for schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, childhood and adolescent depression, and depression resistant to standard interventions.

The vast range of patient populations and settings in which psychiatrists work is well-reflected in the research track. Symposia will present new findings on targeted, early interventions for treating autism, an update on pediatric bipolar disorder, both psychopharmacologic and psychosocial approaches to treatment of eating disorders, and a review of research advances in late-life disorders.

Among specific advances to be discussed:

  • Brain imaging reveals how psychotherapy and antidepressants affect brain circuitry to lift depression.
  • Studies in rats uncover a molecular mechanism by which nurture can modify nature.
  • A suspect gene variant that boosts risk for psychosis triggers a telltale pattern of brain activity.
  • Certain subgroups of teens with depression may respond better than others to treatment.

“We view our research track at the APA meeting as an extraordinary opportunity to inform the psychiatric profession, and the larger mental health field, about NIMH’s commitment to work toward a long-term goal of personalized care for every individual who lives with a mental disorder,” added Insel.

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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 .