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NARSAD award three top IoP researchers

7 January 2011 

Three scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London have received NARSAD 2010 Young Investigator Awards worth up to $60,000 (£40,000) each.  These are in the form of two year grants for research into psychiatric disorders.  NARSAD  'the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research' has selected the three IOP based scientists from amongst 1032 applications that were submitted. In total, 214 early-career scientists in the United States and 11 in other countries were selected to receive funds this year, to advance their research.

IoP researchers selected to receive a grant are covering a variety of topics, including:

Dr Patricia Zunszain, PhD, from the Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology laboratory (SPI-Lab)and Section of Perinatal Psychiatry, will study the mechanisms that link stress, inflammation and antidepressant action in human brain stem cells. Results from this study will help to understand basic processes underlying depression, and this could help to develop more efficient treatments.

Dr Francesca Ducci, PhD and Walport Clinical Lecturer, studies the genetics behind psychosis, which to date has focused on common genetic variation, whereas Dr Ducci seeks to identify new rare genetic variation and test the extent of impact they have on risk for psychosis.  This study will help in improving our understanding of the biological process causing psychosis that is a first step towards the identification of new treatment targets and the development more efficient preventive and treatment strategies.

Dr Matthew Hill, PhD, will take into account recent large genome-wide studies which have identified susceptibility genes for schizophrenia. Two of the most robustly supported genes for schizophrenia - ZNF804A and TCF4 – are thought to serve as transcription factors, meaning they regulate the expression of other genes. Working with Dr Nick Bray in the Department of Neuroscience, he is exploring the effect of manipulations of these genes on the gene expression in human brain cells. The NARSAD Young Investigator Award will allow Dr Hill to expand upon this work and will provide a much clearer understanding of the function of these two genes and the molecular pathways by which they predispose to schizophrenia, with the potential to identify new therapies. 

To read more about the NARSAD Young Investigator Awards, please follow the link 

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