December 13, 2006

NARSAD Awards $19 Million in New Grants for Mental Health Research in 2006

NARSAD: The Mental Health Research Association announced today that it recently completed its grant making for 2006, awarding a total of $19 million in new funding for research on the causes, treatment and prevention of severe mental illnesses.

The grants should bring new insight to such illnesses as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, eating disorders, and other adult and childhood disorders. The funds support far-ranging research, covering subjects ranging from the genetics of schizophrenia to new treatments for depression.

Now in its 20th year of grant making, NARSAD is the world’s largest donor-supported organization dedicated to funding innovative scientific research on psychiatric disorders. Previously known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, NARSAD has helped expand the field of mental health research. Since 1987, it has distributed more than $199.3 million in grants to 2,948 research scientists in the United States and 25 other countries.

This year’s grants, which attracted worldwide competition from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants, were awarded to 273 early-career, mid-career and established scientists to broaden and deepen the investigation of brain and behavior disorders. The funded scientists are based at universities and medical research institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, South Korea and Switzerland. (A complete list of grant recipients and their institutions is available at

“This group of scientists will extend the research potential for mental health,” said Constance E. Lieber, president of NARSAD. “Their work will continue to accelerate progress in the study of all areas of psychiatric disorders. They will take advantage of remarkable new technologies, powerful genetic insights and broadened experience to benefit the many millions of people suffering mental illnesses.” In the United States alone, approximately one in four people suffers a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, with 6 percent, or 1 in 17, suffering a severe mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

NARSAD’s 2006 grantmaking includes:

206 Young Investigator Awards, which are one- and two-year grants of $30,000 to $60,000 earmarked for promising young scientists beginning neurobiological research. The awards are intended to help them generate the pilot data necessary to apply for larger grants.

46 Independent Investigator Awards, which provide $50,000 a year for two years to sustain the promising work of scientists who have successfully initiated independent research.

20 Distinguished Investigators Awards, which are one-year grants of $100,000 for established scientists at work on breakthrough research.

The Staglin Family Music Festival NARSAD Schizophrenia Research Award, a $250,000 grant designated for an early-career scientist whose research addresses the causes of schizophrenia and new treatments for this devastating disease, which affects 1 percent of the population worldwide.

“These scientists represent the best in the field and are pursuing the most innovative and promising research,” said Herbert Pardes, M.D., president and CEO of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Healthcare System, who is also president of NARSAD’s Scientific Council. The council, which reviews and recommends grants, comprises 94 pre-eminent neuroscientists, including Nobel Prize laureates Paul Greengard, Ph.D., Rockefeller University, and Eric Kandel, M.D., Columbia University.

According to Dr. Pardes, some noteworthy trends in NARSAD’s 2006 grant projects include:

Genome-scanning studies to identify genes associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and depression;

Research looking at the roles of such neurotransmitters as dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and serotonin in psychiatric brain disorders;

The effectiveness and mechanism of action of drugs for various disorders, including autism;

Alternative treatments, such as cognitive therapy and electrical and magnetic stimulation of the brain, for psychiatric disease;

The role of stress in the development of mental illnesses;

The use of powerful new technologies in brain imaging to understand how brain structure and function are related to the development of mental illnesses;

Co-morbidity studies of coronary heart disease and diabetes in people with schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder;

Psychosocial studies, including the use of cognitive behavior therapy in treating people with schizophrenia; identifying people at risk for suicide; and improving medication compliance; and

A striking increase in child and adolescent studies. Researchers will be investigating the effects of antidepressant use during pregnancy, how to identify teens at risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the effects on the brain of early physical and sexual abuse, abnormalities in the brains of children of depressed parents, and post-traumatic stress in Israeli and Palestinian children ages 1 to 5.

For additional information about the work of NARSAD, the research it supports and various psychiatric disorders, visit the organization’s Web site at


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