Clinical Instructor
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences

Project title: Imaging transcriptomics across developmental stages of early psychotic illness

Carrie Bearden, PhD - UCLA
Michael Gandal, MD, PhD - UCLA
Bogdan Pasaniuc, PhD - UCLA
Armin Raznahan, MD, PhD - NIMH
Nelson Freimer, MD - UCLA

Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Schizophrenia/Psychosis, Neuroimaging, Neurobehavioral genetics, Neurodevelopment

Project Description:
Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder often resulting in profound chronic disability with overt clinical onset most common during adolescence. The progression to psychosis is dynamic and protracted, and working memory dysfunction is a core feature of schizophrenia with typical maturation throughout adolescence, which depends partly on cortical glutamate- and GABA-mediated neural circuitry. However, connecting the molecular underpinnings of disruptions in this circuitry to in vivo human brain development has been elusive. This integrative project utilizes novel neuroimaging methods and publicly available brain wide transcriptomic atlases to investigate neurodevelopmental mechanisms of schizophrenia risk in a prospective longitudinal cohort of youth at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis. The project will test whether cortical regions underlying working memory function are differentially affected in CHR youth that develop schizophrenia, and whether they are associated with working memory measures and a unique pattern of glutamate and GABA transcript enrichment affected by schizophrenia risk genes.