Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior well represented at international meeting

Posted By News On April 4, 2011 - 2:00pm
Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior well represented at international meeting

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Georgia Health Sciences University Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior will have unprecedented representation at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research for the second time.

Seven GHSU investigators, including medical students, fellows, junior faculty and senior leadership, will present their research at the biennial meeting April 2-6 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"The department continues to make substantial contributions toward the treatment and understanding of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders," said Dr. Peter Buckley, Dean of the Medical College of Georgia and former Chairman of the department. "Our significant presence at this international meeting is recognition of our accomplishments in the research of the disease, its possible causes and potential treatments."

Buckley, an advisory board member for the Congress, will discuss his National Institutes of Mental Health-funded research findings regarding schizophrenia relapse and metabolic signatures for several neuropsychiatric diseases. He will also host a workshop addressing schizophrenia researchers' role in patient care.

Other GHSU presentations:

  • Second-year medical student James Gable will discuss an MCG project screening homeless people for psychiatric symptoms.

  • Dr. Brian Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior and a 2009 recipient of the Congress's Young Investigator Travel Award, will present a poster analyzing the alterations of cytokines in schizophrenia. Cytokines mediate cross-talk between the brain and the immune system and play an important role in inflammation and infection. "There is some research to indicate that those alterations may be a result of the disease itself," Miller said. "That could affect the way the disease is treated in the future."

    Drs. Anil Pillai, Brian Miller and Anthony Ahmed, are all presenting research at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research April 2-6 in Colorado Springs.

    (Photo Credit: Phil Jones, Campus Photographer, Georgia Health Sciences University)

  • Dr. Anilkumar Pillai, also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior and a 2009 Young Investigator Travel Award recipient, will discuss the potential of a neuroprotective compound called Cysteamine for treating stress-induced anxiety behavior. In animal studies, he has shown that the steroid hormone corticosterone increases anxiety-based behavior and reduces proteins released after stress. Research indicates that Cysteamine could block those changes, which could lead to novel treatments for some psychiatric disorders.

  • Kristy Howell, a Graduate Research Assistant in Pillai's lab, will discuss chronic effects of steroid exposure on vascular endothelial growth factor, which plays a critical role in stress-mediated changes associated with psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.

  • Dr. Alvin Terry, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, will discuss the effects of cotinine, the predominant metabolite in nicotine, on attention in schizophrenia-related animal models.

  • Christina Wilson, Graduate Research Assistant in Dr. Terry's lab, will discuss attention, learning and memory deficits associated with prenatal stress and neuropsychiatric illnesses.

  • Dr. Anthony Ahmed, Psychotic Disorders Fellow, will discuss the association between alcohol/drug use problems and psychosis.

  • Dr. Clare Bergson, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, will discuss how the up-regulation of the brain hormone calcyon, a symptom of schizophrenia, during adolescence impairs response inhibition and working memory in adulthood.

The Congress will also be host to a meeting of the editorial board of the GHSU-led Clinical Schizophrenia & Related Psychoses. Buckley is the journal's Editor-in-Chief.

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