2020 Friedman Brain Institute Research Scholars

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The Satter Foundation is proud to support the work of The Friedman Brain Institute Research Scholars Program.  The Program supports innovative and collaborative pilot brain research across the Mount Sinai Health System. They aim to give most promising researchers — whether they are in the early phases of their careers or are more established and venturing into a new area of investigation — the freedom and flexibility to follow science wherever it leads. Emphasis is placed on translational research — driving creative ways to advancing discoveries in the laboratory into the new diagnostic tests and treatments in the clinic.

Priority is given to early and mid-career investigators who seek to form new collaborations with colleagues in other disciplines and to senior scientists who wish to undertake a project outside of their usual area of investigation. Projects are designed with a goal of generating the preliminary data needed to secure external funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other sources.

The 2020 Friedman Brain Institute Satter Research Scholar Award was presented to Dolores Malaspina, MD, MS, MSPH Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Yuen Ping Toco Chui Associate Professor, Ophthalmology.   They will gain psychosis insights from ocular imaging. 

Schizophrenia is a disabling neurodevelopmental disorder typically diagnosed in the late teens or early twenties, defined by psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and socio-emotional deficits.  The syndrome is caused by different types of underlying brain abnormalities,   but it is treated as a single disorder because we lack an inexpensive and rapid technology to determine the pathology for individual cases. However, the eye, which develops as an outgrowth of the brain in fetal life, can be rapidly imaged using sophisticated optical imaging technologies that can measure neurons, axons, glia, microvasculature, myelination, and immune function. This study will test the use of ocular imaging for research and clinical treatment in schizophrenia, obtaining state of the art ocular imaging for schizophrenia cases and controls. The results will be examined with respect to the subjects’ individual gut microbiome composition, circulating inflammatory cytokines and magnetic spectroscopic (MRS) brain images.

The Satter Foundation congratulates Dr. Malaspina and Yuen Ping Toco.