Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, disturb particularly human aspects of perception and cognition.  The overall burden of suffering for patients, their families, and society is huge. These disorders have proven resistant to the best neurobiological and genetic experimental strategies -- and many of the key issues that could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment are still not understood -- But there is now growing cause for optimism. In the last decade, we have moved from knowing nothing about the types and number of genetic loci involved in these diseases  to having a substantial understanding of their genetic risk factors.  Mount Sinai has assembled a diverse team of both basic and clinical researchers to translate these research findings into clinical care.

Areas of Research

Genetics and Genomics of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder 

Both diseases are strongly familial, but until recently have proven resistant to genetic methodologies for identifying their etiology. The explosion of strong and convincing genetic evidence indicates a contribution of many DNA changes to the risk of becoming ill, along with increasing evidence for epigenetic mechanisms at work as well. We are deeply involved in large-scale genomic and epigenomic studies of these diseases that we expect will lead to important new insights into their causes.

Scientists involved: Schahram Akbarian,  Katherine Burdick, Joseph Buxbaum, Joel Dudley, Gang Fang, Menachem Fromer, Shaun Purcell, Panos Roussos, Eric Schadt, Jeremy Silverman, Pamela Sklar, Eli Stahl

Coming to Biological Understanding of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of abnormal development and functioning of synaptic circuitry.  Mount Sinai researchers are developing state-of-the art neural stem cell models, as well as pursuing more traditional approaches,including neuroimaging.

Scientists involved: Kristen Brennand, Joseph Buxbaum, Kenneth Davis, Stella (Plevan) Dracheva, Sophia Frangou, Joseph Friedman, Fatemeh (Victoria) Haghighi, Harry Haroutunian, Javier Gonzalez-Maeso, Hirofumi Morishita

New Treatments for Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder  

Our work is focused on translating basic findings from genetics into actionable treatment trials.  Mount Sinai has established a new Psychosis Research Program devoted to applying the best new practices emerging from basic and translational studies to patient care.  Our scope is broad and includes studies and researchers at the James J Peterson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx and the Mount Sinai Health System.

Scientists involved:  Katherine Burdick, William Byne, Lisa Dixon, Sophia Frangou, Fiona Graff, Erin Hazlett, Dan Iosifescu, Harold Levine, Margaret McClure, Larry Siever