Longitudinal Assessment and Monitoring of Clinical Status and Brain Function in Adolescents and Adults

NIMH funded MH "Vulnerability to Progression in Schizophrenia"


Principal Investigator: Robert McCarley, M.D.

Study Description

This 5-year study (2007-2012) examines individuals who are at various stages of progression of schizophrenia and healthy volunteers. Three groups within the continuum of illness progression and healthy volunteers are studied to give a broad perspective on potential markers and predictors of illness risk and protective factors. The groups include individuals at clinical high risk prior to diagnosis of psychotic illness ("prodromal"), individuals newly diagnosed with schizophrenia ("first episode"), individuals with schizophrenia for more than 5 years and healthy volunteers. This study aims to link clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging, electrophysiological, hormonal and genetic markers of schizophrenia disease progression to understand how the underlying neural pathways may be disturbed. We do this by investigating the expression of genes of interest in pre-existing post-mortem tissue and evaluating the association of the relevant genes with findings related to illness progression from each of the areas studied.

The study is an NIMH funded grant under the Center for Intervention Development and Applied Research (CIDAR) funding mechanism (P50) administered through Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The study involves a collaboration of investigators from BIDMC, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Boston and Brockton Veterans Administration Medical Centers, Cambridge Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and McLean Hospital, all teaching hospitals of the Harvard Medical School Departments of Psychiatry.

The study is a collaboration of several co-principal investigators. Robert McCarley, MD, the Principal Investigator of the study, has been widely recognized and honored for his research in neuroimaging and neurophysiology of schizophrenia. Jean Frazier, MD is a recognized expert in childhood psychosis and an experienced researcher on the neurobiology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Jill Goldstein, PhD is a recognized expert in sex differences in the expression, transmission, and structural and functional brain abnormalities in schizophrenia. Tracey Petryshen, PhD, has substantial expertise in genetic linkage and association studies of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has developed improved analytic and methodological approaches to studying genetics. Larry J. Seidman, PhD is a recognized expert in neuropsychological functioning and neuroimaging in high risk studies of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. Martha Shenton, PhD, is a leading figure in the US in neuroimaging studies of schizophrenia. Wilson Woo, MD, PhD is an experienced bench researcher in the post-mortem investigation of brain circuitry disturbances in schizophrenia and a clinical researcher of the neurobiology of schizophrenia.

The overall organization of this large center grant, which includes four cores and four projects, is shown below. Each patient and healthy volunteer enrolled in this project will have assessments completed by Core 1 (clinical assessments), Core 2 (genetics) and each of the projects. All of the cores and projects will share information obtained by each of the projects with all of the cores.

To get more information on CIDAR, click here.