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$52M Study to Investigate Schizophrenia Trajectory in High-Risk Youth

December 02, 2020

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded a $52 million, 5-year grant for a study focused on understanding the trajectory toward schizophrenia in high-risk youth, announced the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, Manhasset, New York. 

The international study will be led by John Kane, MD, director of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the Feinstein Institutes, along with Scott Woods, MD, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and Carrie Bearden, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Feinstein Institutes will receive $3 million of the grant to investigate biological and psychosocial factors that contribute to the evolution of psychosis.

“To understand the course of schizophrenia in young people is the key to early diagnosis, intervention, personalized therapies, and better outcomes,” said Dr. Kane, who is also chairman of psychiatry at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, New York.

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The grant will fund the development of the Psychosis Risk Outcomes Network (ProNET), which will span 26 institutions across 8 countries.

Investigators will recruit 1040 patients at clinical high risk of schizophrenia and perform numerous clinical and biomarker assessments—evaluating brain structure and function with magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography, psychopathology and cognition, genetics, behavior and language, and speech—over 2 years. Some 236 healthy controls will also be assessed.

ProNET will investigate whether the biomarkers can be used to predict individual clinical trajectories and to select patients most likely to benefit from treatment. 

“Because ProNet will bring together multiple levels of expertise, we will have the most inclusive international sample of patient data in the clinical high risk field,” said Barbara Cornblatt, PhD, a professor at the Feinstein Institutes and one of the project’s senior investigators. “This project holds the promise of detecting the true biomarkers of schizophrenia, which will lead to new prevention and intervention strategies.”

—Jolynn Tumolo

Reference

Libassi M. Feinstein Institutes researchers help lead $52M study of schizophrenia in high-risk youth [press release]. Manhasset, New York: Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health; November 16, 2020.

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