Dr. JP Yu, MD, PhD has received a 2016 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. This foundation, formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), awards grants to individuals whose research they believe could help alleviate suffering caused by mental illness. This past year, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awarded nearly $13.7 million in support of the Young Investigator Program to support the work of promising young scientists with innovative ideas in mental health research.
Dr. Yu’s project, funded under the New Technologies grant category, is entitled “Diffusion Tensor Imaging and Behavior Correlates in a Disc1 Model of Schizophrenia” and utilizes a new genetic rat model of schizophrenia that Dr. Yu developed here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since the initial discovery of Disc1 almost 15 years ago, numerous studies have uncovered compelling evidence that the biological pathways involving Disc1and its protein network play pivotal roles in the pathologies relevant to schizophrenia, autism, and mood disorders. A leading motivation for studying Disc1 is to ultimately develop more effective therapeutic interventions than those that are currently available. While the Disc1 protein itself might not be a viable drug target, understanding the molecular pathways that Disc1mediates has already begun to uncover new pathways and targets that are responsive to pharmacologic intervention.
Dr. Yu’s lab, with their new Disc1 knockout model, aims to unpack the neuroimaging and behavioral features of Disc1 to better understand its contribution in the neuropsychopathogenesis of schizophrenia and to establish a platform to explore pharmacologic interventions which may ameliorate a major mental illness.