Prof. Anastassiou Wins NIH Award
Electrical Engineering Professor Dimitris Anastassiou has won an $800,000 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to discover biological mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Joining Anastassiou as second principal investigator is Maria Karayiorgou, professor of psychiatry and medical genetics at the Columbia University Medical Center.The project – titled "Computational discovery of synergistic mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders" – will analyze genetic variations in genome-wide association data for psychiatric disorders aimed at shedding light on causative biological mechanisms for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Anastassiou says the biological mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders are largely unknown.
“The aim is to discover novel biological mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders,” he says. “Once such mechanisms are discovered, the ultimate vision (beyond this current research) is to develop drugs that would interfere with these mechanisms.”
The project will feature collaboration between Anastassiou’s computational laboratory and Karayiorgou’s genetic laboratory. If results with two genes are deemed promising, the group will test them using in vitro (in the genetic laboratory) neurobiological experiments.
“In turn,” he says, “these discoveries will be helpful for the development of highly needed diagnostic and therapeutic methods for these diseases.”