Drs. James Meador-Woodruff and Robert McCullumsmith have received 2 new NIH grants totaling $3.9 million to study the causes of schizophrenia and to develop new targets for treating the illness. These studies involve cutting edge methodologies, including laser capture micro dissection and advanced proteomics techniques, permitting the investigators to ask and answer the largest possible questions related to the causes of schizophrenia. With these techniques, Drs. Meador-Woodruff and McCullumsmith will probe for abnormalities of glutamate neurotransmission in the frontal cortex region of brains from deceased subjects with schizophrenia. Some of the tissues for these studies will be provided by the Alabama Brain Collection (ABC), which is managed by Dr. Rosalinda Roberts, who is also on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Meador-Woodruff is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and has been studying schizophrenia for over 25 years. Dr. McCullumsmith is Director of the Adult Ambulatory Division and his primary research focus is schizophrenia.
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Background on Schizophrenia:
Schizophrenia is an often devastating severe mental illness affecting about 1% of the population. For example, if you graduated from high school with 300 people, 2-3 of them may now have schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia involves relatively normal development until age 18-25, when there is typically a psychotic break that involves hearing voices. Other symptoms include problems with memory, decision making, and motivation. Afflicted patients typically are unable to work and have a hard time maintaining interpersonal relationships. Schizophrenia does not discriminate-it affects all socioeconomic segments and populations. More financial and community resources go towards the care and treatment of schizophrenia than any other medical illness.