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. At Mount Sinai, we have assembled a diverse team of both basic and clinical researchers to translate these research findings into clinical care.
Areas of Research
Our research in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is focused on a number of different areas.
Genetics and Genomics of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
Both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are strongly familial, but until recently they have proven resistant to genetic methodologies for identifying their etiology. The emergence 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. 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, Joseph Buxbaum, Gang Fang, Menachem Fromer, Shaun Purcell, Panos Roussos, Eric Schadt, Jeremy Silverman, Eli Stahl
Coming to a Biological Understanding of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of abnormal development and functioning of synaptic circuitry. Our 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 BipolarDisorder
Our work is focused on translating basic findings from genetics into actionable treatment trials. We have established a 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: William Byne, Lisa Dixon, Sophia Frangou, Fiona Graff, Erin Hazlett, Harold Levine, Margaret McClure