Navigate Up


​Researchers are studying the brain's pyramidal cells to learn more about schizophrenia.
UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Senior Manager
Telephone: 412-578-9193 or 412-624-3212
Director
Telephone: 412-417-2582

Pitt Receives $10 Million Grant from NIMH for Conte Center Focused on Schizophrenia

 
PITTSBURGH, May 8, 2014 – The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a $10 million, five-year grant to establish the Silvio O. Conte Center for Translational Mental Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. The Center focuses on cortical cells, brain circuits, neuronal connectivity and cognition in schizophrenia.
 
Schizophrenia is a major public health problem and devastating illness, affecting 0.5 to 1 percent of the world’s population. Symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and mood disturbances. Current treatments for schizophrenia have limited effectiveness, and all medications currently used to treat schizophrenia and related disorders were discovered by serendipity rather than goal-oriented, rigorous science.
 
“There is an urgent need for a new approach to treatment development to address these problems,” said David A. Lewis, M.D., UPMC Professor in Translational Neuroscience, chair of Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, and director of the Conte Center. “This innovative Center will initiate drug development methodically by first identifying molecular targets that could influence the course of the illness, a strategy that has been successful in other areas of medicine.”
 
The Center’s research activities will test the hypothesis that molecular disturbances in certain triangular-shaped “pyramidal” cells, which are found in the outer layers of the brain’s cerebrum known as the neocortex, alter cortical circuitry within and between brain regions, impair functional connectivity and neural signaling, and disturb the processes of working memory and attention in individuals with schizophrenia.
 
Five research projects and clinical and diagnostic cores will take convergent approaches to examine these molecular changes with the aim of making laboratory findings readily relevant to clinical treatment of schizophrenia. The Center’s work is directed at identifying pathophysiology-based molecular targets for new treatments and at developing biomarkers that can be used to monitor their impact.
 
Center investigators include scientists from Pitt’s School of Medicine and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, as well as Carnegie Mellon University, who represent a broad array of expertise spanning molecular systems and cognitive, computational and clinical neuroscience.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com