Science and Service News Updates

NIMH: Schizophrenia Linked to Over-expression of Gene in Fetal Brain: Excess of Shortened Forms Could Lead to Abnormal Brain Development

A gene called DISC1, (for “disrupted in schizophrenia”) has been a leading contender among possible genetic causes since it was implicated in schizophrenia in a large Scottish clan two decades ago. The DISC1 gene codes for a protein important for brain development, as well as for mood and memory – functions that are disturbed in schizophrenia. However, until now there have been few clues as to how DISC1 might increase risk. A new study suggests how impaired expression of DISC1 might wreak havoc during early critical periods as the developing brain gets wired up. NIMH researchers have discovered that previously unknown shortened forms of the gene were expressed 2.5 times more in the fetal brain than after birth. By contrast, other forms were expressed more evenly across development. The shortened forms were also over-expressed in brains of adults who had schizophrenia. Researchers report on their discoveries in postmortem brain tissue online, during the week of August 24, 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

Science Update:

HHS Announces $25.7 Million in Grants to Expand, Improve Health Center Services

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $25.7 million in grants to increase and improve health and support services at the nation’s health centers. A total of 180 grants worth more than $21.9 million will give existing health centers the funds to add or increase mental health/substance abuse treatment, enabling (i.e., outreach, transportation, case management services), and oral health or pharmacy services. Additionally, 48 planning grants totaling more than $3.8 million will be distributed to organizations in hard hit areas that do not have health centers to help them develop new service delivery sites. New health center sites must meet federal requirements for governance, community involvement, quality of care and financial feasibility.

Press release:

NIMH is on YouTube

NIMH has posted several videos on its YouTube channel. These include a four-minute video on depression and Brain’s Inner Workings I and II narrated by Leonard Nemoy and Tom Bosley.  The two Brain’s Inner Workings videos explore the biological function of neurons and neurotransmitters, and higher brain function. Other videos include short clips of MRI and FMRI that show changes in brain structure and function in the developing brain.

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Trastorno Bipolar

NIMH’s easy-to-read booklet on bipolar disorder is now available in Spanish online.

The suicide prevention information on the NIMH website is highlighted during Suicide Prevention Week.

Leveling the Playing Field: Practical Strategies for Increasing Veterans Involvement in Diversion and Reentry Programs

This guide from SAMHSA’s GAINS Center was designed to ensure that veterans with histories of incarceration are positioned to inform, support, and lead efforts to reform the criminal justice and mental health systems by identifying and addressing the obstacles that prevent meaningful veteran involvement.

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