Web Forum Launched for Schizophrenia Researchers
Researchers trying to crack one of medicine's most perplexing unsolved mysteries can now keep abreast of late-breaking developments via the Schizophrenia Research Forum, a website launched this month with funding from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Sponsored by NARSAD, The Mental Health Research Association, the site bills itself as a "virtual community" where researchers can link-up with colleagues and potential collaborators, learn about new findings, meetings and funding opportunities, and critique each other's articles and ideas.
"We're hoping that the Forum will become a catalyst for creative thinking that will speed the pace of discovery," said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D.
The site — www.schizophreniaforum.org — includes original news stories and interviews with leading scientists in the field. Among specific forums that invite contributions from the field, "Current Hypotheses" presents theory reviews, while an "Idea Lab" posts less formal treatments. Most features of the site are interactive and solicit comment.
There will also be live chats with experts that will be archived for later viewing. For example, NIMH senior advisor Mayada Akil, M.D., who represents the Institute to the Forum, is tentatively scheduled to co-lead a discussion with Dr. Irving Gottesman, University of Virginia, on "Identifying Quantifiable Phenotypes in Schizophrenia Research."
Citations of current schizophrenia-related papers, with links to PubMed abstracts are posted each week — the newest in a searchable database going back to 2000. Among research tools, the site offers an extensive annotated index of relevant web sites with information, downloadable software, databases, and other web-based technologies for scientists. Future plans include a searchable database called SchizophreniaGene.
Registered researchers are listed in a member directory with links to their profiles, containing affiliations, contact information and research interests. Other resources include jobs listings and links to journals and departments and institutes involved in schizophrenia research worldwide.
Members of the Forum's Scientific Advisory Board are William T. Carpenter, Jr., University of Maryland School of Medicine, Joseph T. Coyle, McLean Hospital, Anthony A. Grace, University of Pittsburgh,. Stephan Heckers, McLean Hospital, James L. Kennedy, University of Toronto, June Kinoshita, Alzheimer Research Forum, David A. Lewis, University of Pittsburgh, Carol A. Tamminga, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and Daniel R. Weinberger, National Institute of Mental Health.
NIMH is providing $700,000 in initial funding for the Schizophrenia Research Forum for 2005-2007. The site's executive editor Hakon Heimer is assisted by a team of science communicators and web designers who helped develop a similar website for Alzheimer's disease, after which it is modeled.
NIMH will be co-hosting an event during the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting Washington, D.C. in late November that will acquaint neuroscientists with the Schizophrenia Research Forum and its offerings.
More information on Schizophrenia
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.