Posts Tagged ‘brain disorders’

Supporting BRAIN: Research for Cures

A promising start In April 2013, President Obama announced the BRAIN Initiative, an effort intended to take brain research to the next level and advance understanding of perhaps the most important and least understood object in biomedical science today—the human brain. The initial announcement was made with great fanfare, though relatively little funding was promised at that point to support the initiative. Since then, however, many government agencies and private foundations and institutions have dedicated funding and resources to this important effort to understand the brain and its disorders better. Hundreds of funded grants have already begun to produce results, for example, improved ways of turning neurons on and off in experimental animals and a design for a brain-scanning helmet, allowing PET scans of people while they are active. The need to push forward So far, the BRAIN Initiative has had strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Each year since its inception, […]

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Exploring the Final Frontier: Brain Awareness Week

The human brain is responsible for amazing things – from space travel to skyscrapers, from epic poems to cures for a host of formerly deadly diseases. What it hasn’t done so well at, so far, is understanding itself. Actually, it is only by comparison to our knowledge about other things—how our hearts work, or how life formed on our planet—that our understanding of the brain falls a bit short. Though there’s a lot we still don’t understand, we have learned quite a bit about our brains, especially over the last 100 years, thanks to the hard work of pioneering scientists who developed new tools to explore below the microscopic level. Today is the first day of Brain Awareness Week (BAW) 2015, celebrating their work, and the ongoing work that continues to increase our understanding of our brain—the incredibly complex organ that defines us has humans. This is the 20th BAW, […]

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Too Good To Be True? Debate about the Latest Schizophrenia Research

Treating mental illnesses like schizophrenia or autism, where symptoms range widely, would be much easier if doctors had diagnostic tests—tests that could tell them if two people who have overlapping but also different symptoms have the same disorder, or tests that could tell them which medications will work best for which person. Recently, a study claiming that schizophrenia can be subdivided into at least eight genetic subtypes has garnered a lot of media attention. It’s easy to see why: if schizophrenia can be distilled into subtypes, each underpinned by different genetics, we might be closer to understanding the disorder and developing more personalized treatments. However, the study, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry on September 15, has been roundly criticized by others in the psychiatric genetics community, who fault the researchers for publically promoting results that others view as preliminary and in need of scrutiny and more study. If […]

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More Research? … Why?

Cure Alliance for Mental Illness is a new organization, still looking for supporters, collaborators, and friends. Recently we had a dialogue with prominent Hollywood mental illness advocate Joe Pantoliano (founder of No Kidding? Me Too!) about our call for more research. He said: “I would rather see new money go to treatment for the suffering. Research has already proven that mental ‘dis-ease’ is 50% genetic, the rest being the result of our environment. What I want to see happen is this. Our brain must have the same insurance coverage as our other vital organs. We are not alone. Mental unrest is here to stay. What is available right now is recovery, peace of mind, coping skills.” This is an understandable response—right now, people with mental illness do not have access to the full range of support and treatment to aid in their recovery. We agree that more money must go […]

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Depression Hits Close to Home

By Audra Moran My name is Audra Moran, and I am a founding board member of Cure Alliance for Mental Illness. I spent the early part of my career working in mental illness—first as a rehabilitation counselor and later in research funding, at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, where I was Vice President for Development and Scientific Affairs. All of which is to say that I am no stranger to psychiatric brain disorders. So when my father, at age 60, experienced his first episode of major depression, I should have been prepared, but instead felt immobilized. What should or could I do to help, especially from so far away? I was in New York, he was home in central Florida. My first attempt to help didn’t go so well—a clinician I located in his area began my father on a course of antipsychotics, though his depression did not have […]

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Research Priorities at NIMH

by Robin Cunningham On February 8, 2013, I attended the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) Alliance for Research Progress Meeting held at NIMH Headquarters in the Neuroscience Center, Rockville, MD.  The purpose of these semi-annual meetings is to assist advocacy organizations in staying abreast of current and on-going research into the causes, treatments, prevention and cures for the various brain disorders, including mental illnesses, for which they advocate. The organizations at the meeting represent a wide array of brain disorders, but Cure Alliance for Mental Illness was the only non-profit in attendance that focuses its efforts entirely on advocating for increased funding for research for all mental illnesses. More information about this February 8th meeting, including an agenda, a summary of the presentations made, and a list of attendees, is available at the NIMH website. Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the NIMH, gave a presentation entitled “The State […]

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