PA ) - Bruce Turetsky, MD, associate professor
of psychiatry and associate director of neuropsychiatry
at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,
has received a two year grant of $100,000 from The National
Alliance of Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
(NARSAD). Turetsky will use the prestigious Independent
Investigator grant to search for biological and behavioral
markers that indicate an increased inherited predisposition
As director of the Psychophysiology Laboratory of the
Schizophrenia Research Center at Penn for the past 10
years, Turetsky has been actively studying abnormalities
in the way patients with schizophrenia process information
received through auditory channels; a trait commonly
found in those with the disorder. Turetsky has also
documented that in many cases healthy siblings of patients
with schizophrenia exhibit similar, though less severe
The NARSAD grant will allow him to study the specific
processing deficits within a much broader base. Thirteen
large, three generational families will take part in
the study. Along with the patient, each family group
will include at least one first-degree relative also
diagnosed with schizophrenia, parents, siblings over
15, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Each of
the family members will be tested for specific disparities
in the processing of sounds. This will be done through
the use of Event Related Potential (ERP) and MRI methodologies.
When discrepancies similar to those exhibited by the
patient are found in additional family members, Turetsky
will seek to find specific associations between them
and genetic markers of inherited biological mechanisms.
This much needed data will help advance the development
of early identification techniques, prevention and rehabilitation
of the disorder.
Turetsky is also involved in a separate NIH-funded research
program investigating deficits in the processing of
smells, another trait often present in schizphrenia.
NARSAD was founded 15 years ago for the purpose of raising
and distributing funds for scientific research into
severe mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia
and depression. It is the largest non-government, donor
supported organization of its kind in the world.
Grantees are selected by the organization's Scientific
Review Council, composed of 72 scientists and academic
leaders in all areas of neurobiological and psychiatric
research, with the expectation that the recipients will
play key roles in discovering the causes, new treatments
and eventual cures for mental illness.
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