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4
D
ean's
D
esk
From the
The
"Paisa" population,
native to a region in northwestern
Colombia, has far greater rates of
suicide than average. A consortium of
investigators that includes
Javier I.
Escobar, MD
, professor of psychiatry
and family medicine and associate
dean for global health, was recently
awarded a $5.5 million research grant
by the National Institute of Mental
Health (NIMH) to study the relation-
ship between genetics and behavioral
disorders in the Paisa population. Dr.
Escobar grew up in this region and will serve as a
key link between the U.S. and Colombian researchers.
He believes that a better understanding of the ori-
gins of mental illness will lead to enhanced and
more personalized treatment for patients
around the globe. The grant, titled "Colombia-US
Cross Disorder Collaboration in Psychiatric Genetics,"
is the largest RO1 award given by NIMH this year.
The Paisa population is considered a "genetic
isolate" because the people have been living in the
same area for generations, have a high frequency of
marrying within the extended family, and show
unique genetic characteristics, all of which facilitates
studies. Large genetic studies like this are limited in
the United States, which rarely has specific popula-
tions remaining in the same location over long peri-
ods of time, thus helping to determine which factors
are environmental or genetic.
The grant studies 8,000 members of the Paisa
population who suffer from severe mental disorders.
Researchers will work with physicians at the hospi-
tal in Manizales to assess symptoms, traits, and
markers of severe mental disorders, which will then
be traced to specific genetic markers.
"Mental illness diagnoses are too broad for ef-
fective treatment," says Dr. Escobar. "Our study will
help determine symptoms that are more predictable
and measurable, and may relate to a certain genetic
influence. This eventually may lead to a better way
to classify patients with mental disorders and adapt
treatments there in Colombia, and throughout the
world."
Grant Supports Study of Genetic Causes
for Mental Illness: Largest ROI Award Given by
NIMH this year
Research
Medical School
Continues to See Double-
Digit Increase in NIH
Research Funding and
Clinical Trials
R
obert Wood Johnson Medical
School
reports that in Fiscal Year 2017
(FY'17) our investigators received nearly $33.8
million in research grants from the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), a 14 percent increase
compared to FY'16, which in turn was 13
percent above FY'15. Of the grants received in
FY'17 from the NIH and other funders, 12 were
new awards of $1 million or more, totaling
more than $40 million in new awards greater
than $1 million. In addition, the number of
multi-PI NIH awards with medical school
faculty as the contact principal investigator
increased more than 25 percent compared to
the prior fiscal year.
The number of faculty
participating in research
development programs
more than doubled
compared to FY'16.
Medical school faculty
produced 915 scientific
publications in FY'17,
nearly as many as FY'16,
and over 14 percent more
than in FY'15. The number
of active clinical trials in
the adult CRC increased
30 percent versus FY'16,
which was over 50 percent
more than in FY'15.
Additionally, the Robert
Wood Johnson Medical
School strategic plan for
the research mission was
completed in FY'17, with
a focus on increasing
investment in research,
academic stature, and the
research environment.
Courtesy of Dr. Javier Escobar
I
Culture Shake
Be part of helping shape the medical school by sharing your thoughts on what's
working and what can be improved to make our medical school better. Drop in
throughout the day and enjoy a bite to eat and discussion with your colleagues.
I
Wednesday, Nov. 1
I
6:30 a.m. 6:30 p.m.
I
Clinical Academic Building
I
Rooms 3403 and 3404
I
125 Paterson Street
I
New Brunswick
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Clinical Research Center Open House
I
Tuesday, Nov. 14
I
12 p.m. lunch, followed by program and tours
I
RWJ East Tower
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8th floor
I
New Brunswick
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Lily and George Boxer Memorial Lecture
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Wednesday, Nov. 29
I
4 p.m. lecture, reception to follow
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West Lecture Hall
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675 Hoes Lane West
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Piscataway
I
Speaker:
Li-Huei Tsai, PhD
, Picower Professor of Neuroscience, The Picower
Institute for Learning and Memory, senior associate member, Broad Institute,
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology
I
Topic:
"Network Level Approaches to Studying Alzheimer's Disease"
I
9th Annual Global Health Fair
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Thursday, Nov. 30
I
6 p.m.
I
Clinical Academic Building
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Room 1302
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125 Paterson Street
I
New Brunswick
I
Speaker:
Stephen W. Nicholas, MD
, founder and director,
Center for Global and Population Health
I
Topic:
"Who Cares About the Rest of the World? The moral lives of
doctors who care about those less fortunate than themselves"
Events:
Above:
Dr. Javier Escobar with his wife Luz Escobar