Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences

Project Title: Gene expression profiles of ECT response in Major Depressive Disorder

Nelson Freimer, MD - UCLA
Katherine Narr, PhD - UCLA
Randall Espinoza, MD, MPH - UCLA
Giovanni Coppola, MD - UCLA

Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Neurocognitive phenotyping, neuroimaging, neuropsychiatric genetics, gene expression, biopsychology

Project description:
Dr. Congdon’s research project is aimed at identifying gene expression profiles of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) response in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Although there is evidence that neuromodulation induces changes in neurotrophic factors in brain regions implicated in MDD, and that peripheral gene expression is a useful surrogate for CNS activity in humans, there has been no investigation of the peripheral gene expression changes induced by ECT in MDD patients. Working with collaborators at UCLA, Dr. Congdon will leverage peripheral blood samples collected from MDD patients and matched controls enrolled in an ongoing neuroimaging study. She will test a neurotrophic hypothesis of MDD by identifying gene expression correlates of ECT response and risk of relapse in this sample of patients, and by integrating gene expression biomarkers with neuroimaging biomarkers. This research has the potential to delineate changes in gene regulation that underlie treatment response and risk of relapse in MDD.