|The Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders (CCNMD) at the University of Pittsburgh offers a highly interactive scientific environment for the study of the neurobiology of schizophrenia. The Center, directed by David A. Lewis, MD, integrates the laboratory and clinical research activities of investigators from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Arts and Sciences and the adjacent Carnegie Mellon University. Collectively, the CCNMD represents a broad array of expertise spanning molecular, systems, cognitive, computational and clinical neuroscience that provides complementary approaches to testing one central hypothesis about the disease process of schizophrenia:|
|The Center’s hypothesis is based on widely-replicated data showing reduced expression of the gene that synthesizes the neurotransmitter GABA in the cerebral cortex of individuals with schizophrenia. CCNMD investigators are working to understand how the resulting reduced levels of GABA could lead to impaired synchronization of other networks of neurons in the cerebral cortex – specifically, the neuronal networks which subserve cognitive functions that are disturbed in schizophrenia.
The CCNMD is composed of 5 research projects that are designed to provide convergent tests of this hypothesis. The synergism of these projects facilitates a translational approach to schizophrenia research, making laboratory findings readily relevant to clinical treatment. The CCNMD’s work is directed at identifying pathophysiology-based molecular targets for new therapeutic interventions and at developing biomarkers of this pathophysiology that can be used to monitor the efficacy of such interventions. Thus, the CCNMD is a multi-disciplinary effort directed at testing a mechanistic hypothesis in order to improve our understanding of a core component of the disease process of schizophrenia.
In addition, the Conte Center represents a rich environment for training and career development in which individuals can become involved in studies that bring the methods and knowledge of basic neuroscience to address critical questions in clinical schizophrenia research, The CCNMD hopes to help propel the development of new and more effective treatments for individuals with schizophrenia and to provide a vehicle for disseminating the knowledge gained from translational studies of schizophrenia to the broader scientific and lay communities.