The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York City has announced grants totaling more than $10 million in support of young investigators conducting mental health research.
Young Investigator Grants were awarded to a hundred and fifty early-career scientists engaged in breakthrough neurobiological research focused on the causes of and treatments and prevention strategies for psychiatric disorders.
Selected from more than a thousand applicants, this year's recipients include Gulcan Akgul (University of Connecticut), who will use the gene-editing tool CRISPR to engineer mice that model specific non-inherited genetic variants associated with schizophrenia in postmortem brains to study whether and how they may alter connectivity and the function of circuitry in the prefrontal cortex; Hong-yuan Chu (Van Andel Research Institute), who will investigate how pathology in α-synuclein alters amygdala function at the cellular and neural-circuit levels as it relates to psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression associated with Parkinson's disease; Sophie Laguesse (University of Liège, Belgium), who will use a mouse model of adolescent binge drinking to explore how alcohol interferes with prefrontal cortex maturation and leads to long-lasting behavioral defects; Tiago Oliveira (University of Minho, Portugal), who will study how hippocampal subregions are differentially affected by chronic stress exposure; and Rachel Reetzke (Moser Research Institute/Johns Hopkins University), who will examine the extent to which familial risk for autism spectrum disorder affects neural speech processing at different stages of the auditory pathway in the brainstem and cortex.
According to the foundation, about 81 percent of the funded projects involve basic research; 12 percent are focused on the development of next-generation therapies; 5 percent are focused on the development of diagnostic tools or early interventions aimed at preventing brain and behavior disorders; and 2 percent seek to advance new technologies that can power both basic research and new developments in the clinic.
"BBRF Young Investigators represent a new generation of scientists who will pioneer breakthroughs in mental health research," said Brain & Behavior Research Foundation president and CEO Jeffrey Borenstein. "With these grants, outstanding researchers are able to pursue bold new ideas to answer important questions or help identify potentially game-changing targets for treatment. The awards function as seed funding for new directions that would otherwise be highly unlikely."
For a complete list of 2020 Young Investigator Grantees, see the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation website.
(Photo credit: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation)