Posts Tagged ‘NIMH’

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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Can Fish Oil Stop Schizophrenia?

“Fish oil could prevent schizophrenia.” You have probably seen the headlines in the past weeks. This is the sort of news we all dream of—a way to prevent a serious illness before it develops, using a really safe treatment. The results from the study conducted in Vienna, Austria, are truly promising, but cautious optimism is still the prevailing mood, even among the researchers who did the work. Let’s unpack the story … The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have been discussed as a possible treatment for schizophrenia since at least the 1990s, though research has not shown that fish oil supplementation has any effect on people already living with schizophrenia. However, the Vienna study, led by Paul Amminger of the University of Melbourne in Australia, suggests that fish oil can protect against the development of full-blown psychosis when taken by young people showing early symptoms that could develop into schizophrenia or another […]

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Research Focus: Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia

The hidden symptoms of schizophrenia Cognitive deficits are the less dramatic and less known, but equally disabling symptoms that accompany psychosis for many people living with schizophrenia. Most people with schizophrenia experience problems with basic cognition—the mental functions that help us perform even simple tasks of everyday life. These symptoms can make it hard to live independently, have a job or go to school, or socialize with others. For most, the auditory hallucinations or delusions of psychosis can be treated with varying degrees of success and side effects, using medications. But there is virtually no treatment available to address the cognitive impairments of schizophrenia. (The exception may be the drug clozapine, which some researchers are convinced can improve cognition, even if it is only relatively small boost.) And unlike psychosis, cognitive impairment does not come and go, or get better over time, but seems to remain pretty constant. (Cognitive impairment […]

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At the NAMI Annual Convention

Cure Alliance is just back from the annual convention of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington, DC. We had a booth in the exhibits area, where a steady stream of people stopped by to learn about what we are doing, and to sign our petition calling for more research on mental illness. Perhaps some of you visited us there! It was an energizing trip, not least because of the impassioned advocates at the meeting–we got to see Patrick Kennedy, Creigh Deeds, Demi Lovato, and NAMI President Mary Gilberti fire up the crowds on NAMI’s National Day of Action, before NAMI members made their visits to Capitol Hill to convince their legislators to pay attention to the burden of mental illness. We also saw Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), give the Research Plenary on Saturday morning (see the video). He is eloquent and […]

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A New Way to Study Hallucinations: The RDoC

“Not to worry, Robin. They’ve got no idea.” Startled, I look around to see who was speaking. I find no one. Was that just a thought? No. Someone is definitely talking directly to me. It is someone in the room, not in my mind. It is someone next to me, or behind me. But who is it? And where is he? Why can’t I see him? “Who are you?” I whisper. “Don’t be afraid. They’ve got no idea.” “Where are you? Why can’t I see you?” I ask silently. “You can’t see me because I don’t want to be seen.”  “Who –“ “Pay attention! Your parents have no idea who you’re dealing with!” Oh my God, it has to be Satan! He is not only putting thoughts in my mind — now he is also talking directly to me in his own voice! My skin itches and I begin to […]

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Cure Alliance Letter to the New York Times

In response to the New York Times’s profile on NIMH Director Tom Insel, Cure Alliance cofounders Hakon Heimer and Robin Cunningham joined with Nobel laureate and Cure Alliance Advisor James Watson on a letter to the editor to point out that Insel’s challenge of trying to please diverse and competing constituencies would be a lot easier if he had resources necessary for the task. Here is the full letter: To the editor: Dr. Tom Insel’s challenging job (“Blazing Trails in Brain Science,” Science, Feb 4) would be easier if the National Institute of Mental Health were not running on a shoestring. The Institute’s 2012 budget was $1.5 billion, which seems like a lot until you consider how much mental illnesses cost us: the 2010 US Burden of Disease study shows that the burden to Americans is about equal to that of cancer. As the nation’s economy strengthens in the next few years, we urge policymakers to bring NIMH’s budget closer […]

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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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