The Schizophrenia Research Laboratory (jointly supported by Neuroscience Research Australia, the Schizophrenia Research Institute and the University of New South Wales) endeavours to delineate the basis of schizophrenia, a devastating mental illness which first manifests during adolescence, by bridging the molecular neurodevelopmental and cognitive neuronal systems approaches.
Schizophrenia causes profound withdrawal from family and friends, decreases in intellectual ability, hallucinations and delusions. Our view is that a derailment of the normal maturational program that occurs during the second decade of life in humans underlies schizophrenia. However, very little is known about the normal cellular and molecular developmental changes that occur in the human brain at this important time and how these changes may influence cognitive processes and the development of schizophrenia.
Our primary focus is to understand how genetic variants of hormone receptors and growth factors impact the development and function of the primate cerebral cortex during adolescence and how these factors may be altered in schizophrenia. Genetic variants of several developmentally important genes have been associated with schizophrenia, however the mechanism by which these variants lead to the disease is unknown.
Currently, we are exploring the molecular mechanism of how alterations in estrogen receptor and neuregulin may act to bring about schizophrenia by examining human brain tissue and primary neuronal culture. We are also directly analyzing human genomic DNA and performing comparative genomic studies that are aimed at more clearly pinpointing DNA sequence variations in susceptibility genes that may be critical in determining the vulnerability to schizophrenia.
We are also testing how the pubertal hormonal surge influences the expression of susceptibility genes and how this surge may drive normal molecular and social development of the non-human primate.
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Position Available - RESEARCH
Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), located in Sydney Australia, is an international leader in brain and nervous system research. Through laboratory and clinical research its goal is to find the causes of and cures for neurological and psychiatric diseases.
The focus of the Schizophrenia Research Laboratory is on the molecular and cellular investigations of the normal developing human brain and the brains of patients
with schizophrenia and is closely coupled with work on animal models and genetics. Our goal is to uncover the underlying neurodevelopmental basis for schizophrenia in molecular terms including schizophrenia susceptibility genes, hormone receptors and growth factors, understand the impact on the development and function of the mammalian cerebral cortex during adolescence and how these factors may be altered in schizophrenia.A key aspect of our focus is understanding how changes in interneurons contribute to volumetric changes in grey matter of insula.
We are seeking a neuroscientist with experience in histological and molecular techniques in postmortem brain tissue.
Essential Criteria: a PhD in Neuroscience or equivalent; an interest in schizophrenia and/or psychiatric research; experience in postmortem brain research. Background and training in neurochemistry, imaging analysis, nucleic acid and protein isolation and analysis techniques is required.
Desirable Criteria: experience in molecular genetics, knowledge and understanding of human neurodevelopment, and human neuroanatomy.
Enquiries to: Prof Cyndi Shannon-Weickert 9399 1717 firstname.lastname@example.org or Inara Bebris 9399 1745 email@example.com. Please forward your application to Lee Hilton firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax: 02 9399 1026. Mail: PO Box 1165 Randwick NSW 2031.
Closing: Friday, 15 February, 2013.
Cyndi's research is focused on the molecular developmental neurobiology of schizophrenia. She earned a PhD in Biomedical Science at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health rising to the level of Unit Chief of Molecules in the Neurobiology and Development of Schizophrenia Unit. Her awards include the Eli Lilly Young Investigator Award, NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, Independent Investigator Award and two Young Investigator Awards from NARSD. She has lectured throughout the world and contributed to over 60 publications.
Cognitive and Affective Symptoms in Schizophrenia Intervention (CASSI) Trial
Of all the various symptoms associated with schizophrenia, impairments to cognition function are generally resistant to
Since brain disease often involves neuronal death, research into strategies to restore neuronal numbers could lead to improved function and recovery in patients.
Genetic and environmental factors combine to increase risk for developing schizophrenia. The key neurobiological events in which risk genes participate during development are not understood.
The aim of the project is to determine the role of pubertal testosterone in the development of cortical volume and cognitive function during adolescence in monkeys.
RATIONALE: Adolescence is a developmental period of complex neurobiological change and heightened vulnerability to psychiatric illness.
Background: GABAA receptors (GABAAR) are composed of several subunits that determine sensitivity to drugs, synaptic localisation and function.
New neurons are continuously produced in the subgranular zone of the adult hippocampus and can modulate hippocampal plasticity across life.