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Carmine Pariante receives prestigious research grant

Posted on 13/12/2017

Professor Carmine Pariante from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), has been awarded a Distinguished Investigator Grant by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Professor Pariante, one of 17 scientists recognised worldwide and one of only four awardees from outside North America, is Professor of Biological Psychiatry at the IoPPN, King’s College London, and Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Recipients of the $100,000, one-year grants are seeking new potential targets for understanding and treating a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders that affect one in five people, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, schizophrenia, and psychosis.

Professor Pariante is at the forefront of research on inflammation and mental health, with more than 50 papers published specifically on this subject in the last 10 years. His research proposal, ‘Who are the Depressed Patients That Have Increased Inflammation? A Study in 150,000 Participants from the UK’, uses UK Biobank, a unique database of 155,000 people, to study major depression. The investigators use biological and psychological measures to examine relationships among depression, early and adult stressors, and immune measure. Professor Matthew Hotopf and Professor Cathryn Lewis, also at the IoPPN, will work with Professor Pariante on the project.

The award recipients were selected by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s Scientific Council, which is composed of 176 leading experts across disciplines in brain and behaviour research, including two Nobel Laureates; two former directors of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the current director; four recipients of the National Medal of Science; 13 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 chairs of psychiatric departments, and 52 members of the National Academy of Medicine.

‘By funding creative research that explores new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders, the Distinguished Investigator Grants support and encourage established scientists to advance our understanding about mental illness, and brain and behaviour disorders,’ says Foundation President and CEO Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. ‘These grants serve as seed capital for new approaches that might otherwise go unfunded.’

Professor Pariante said: ‘Inflammation is increasingly recognised as one of the fundamental biological mechanisms underpinning mental disorders, and depression in particular. In our previous work, we have established that increased inflammation, akin to what is present in people who are fighting infections, is present in up to one-third of patients with major depression, and especially in those who are less prone to respond to conventional antidepressants. In this project, we will study how exposure to early life stress interacts with a pro-inflammatory genetic profile to eventually drive this increased inflammation.’

Professor Andrew H. Miller, at Emory University in Atlanta, an internationally recognised leader in the area of brain-immune interactions, and Professor Pariante’s former mentor, is also one of the 2017 recipients. ‘I am very proud to be in such outstanding company’ he said, at news of Professor Pariante’s award.

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly “NARSAD” National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) is a US-based charity which raises money to invest in cutting-edge research projects to understand, treat and ultimately prevent and cure mental illness. The first NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grants were awarded in 1988. Since then, we have awarded more than $39 million in Distinguished Investigator Grants.

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