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Child and Adolescent Onset Schizophrenia: Research Challenges and Opportunities

Meeting Summary
Bethesda, Maryland

Sponsored by:
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Division of Pediatric Translational Research and Treatment Development (DPTR)
NIH Office of Rare Diseases (ORD)

In June 2007, NIMH and the NIH ORD convened a meeting for brainstorming and discussion between basic, translational, and clinical investigators to review the current knowledge on causes, neurobiology, developmental trajectory, and treatment of child- and adolescent-onset schizophrenia. The scientific workshop focused on three important areas: (1) opportunities for expanding current knowledge of causes and neurobiology of child- and adolescent-onset schizophrenia; (2) critical "next steps" in order to translate current understanding of behavioral/cognitive characteristics and underlying neurobiology into treatment development; and (3) current challenges to conducting research in this area, and strategies to overcome them. Workshop participants identified several gap areas and research opportunities, including opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations to foster a better understanding of the pathophysiology of child- and adolescent-onset schizophrenia. Participants considered an understanding of the pathophysiology to be critically necessary in order to develop better preventive or ameliorative interventions for this devastating disorder in youth. Additionally, understanding the developmental neurobiology and physiological pathways to schizophrenia in young people will help to shed light on the disorder as it more typically presents, in late adolescence and early adulthood.