Faculty Research

The Department of Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine is advancing research across a broad range of brain and behavioral disorders to uncover their mechanisms and to introduce new treatments. The department is continuously making new discoveries in a vast array of psychiatric and psychological disorders, including child and adolescent disorders; schizophrenia and psychotic disorders; alcohol and substance use disorders; and mood and anxiety disorders.

In collaboration with researchers at the Richard L. Roudeboush VA Medical Center, the IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry is committed to the improvement of precision medicine in psychiatry through the development and improvement of diagnostics and therapies for psychiatric and related disorders. In addition, departmental researchers conduct novel behavioral and lifestyle interventions for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognitive aging.

Using state-of-the-art technologies, including advanced brain imaging, genetic microarrays, stem cell preparations and animal knock out models, psychiatry faculty are advancing biomedical discoveries.

Psychiatry Research Areas

Cutting-edge research is being conducted within the Department of Psychiatry to better understand how behaviors, emotions, abilities and skills develop in children and adolescents and to explain how disorders emerge during various stages of development. Departmental researchers investigate disorders such as Autism-Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, addictions, mood disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, and language and learning disorders. Active studies are underway to better detect, evaluate and treat these and other psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents using modern technology and treatment resources. Findings have been used to improve clinical care and to pave the way for the next generation of diagnosis and intervention.

Psychiatric researchers at IU School of Medicine are engaged in world-class research regarding the causes and treatments of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. Advanced neuroimaging and biomarkers are used to predict the future course of illness and determine how new pharmacological treatments effect the brain. Novel therapeutics under investigation are the focus of a number of mechanisms believed to mediate the symptoms, cognitive impairment and functional deficits of schizophrenia, including neuro-inflammation, immunomodulation, oxidative stress and the effect of estrogen on brain function. The Prevention and Recovery Center for Early Psychosis (PARC) at Eskenazi Health provides full clinical services and hosts several brain imaging and treatment studies for young people who are in the earliest stages of schizophrenia. Investigators are developing and testing novel interventions and rehabilitative services to enhance recover and psychosocial functioning through studies of meta-cognition in adults with severe mental illness.

The Department of Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine is actively involved in research surrounding alcohol addiction, substance abuse and nicotine use. These programs are conducted at the basic research level using critically developed models to understand the actions of alcohol in the brain, examine the genetic basis of alcoholism and develop tailored strategies for treating alcohol and drug abuse and co-abuse in adolescents. These studies are aimed at determining brain mechanisms involves in alcohol and nicotine abuse and their co-abuse during adulthood, as well as the long-term consequences of their use and co-use following adolescence experience. Additional research is focused on brain neuronal changes associated with chronic exposure to opioid analgesics. Using highly sophisticated models, investigators are working toward developing treatments to combat excessive alcohol consumption and preventing craving and relapse drinking. These investigators are involved in research activities within the Indiana Alcohol Research Center and are preceptors on the Institutional Research Training Grant funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Multiple NIH research grants have been awarded to investigators within the department to support their research efforts.

Investigators within in the department are focused on the neurobiology and genetics of mood and anxiety disorders. Treatment studies conducted have included the testing of novel compounds as the genetics of treatment response. The departmental laboratories have developed complex models of anxiety disorders and have identified critical brain proteins that are involved in the mediation of behavioral responses to stress. Genetic studies of bipolar disorder have been carried out in collaboration with national and international groups, including the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Longitudinal follow-up studies of adolescents and young adults at high risk for developing bipolar and related disorders are in progress.

In collaboration with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center and various departments at IU School of Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry is focused on developing better diagnostics and therapeutics for psychiatric and related disorders. The goal is to have tools for personalized early intervention and treatment as a means to prevent and mitigate disease course. Active research programs include suicide, mood disorders, stress, psychosis, aging and pain.

The Department of Psychiatry has an active program of research in the neuropsychiatric sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In collaboration with faculty from the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Radiology and Imaging Sciences, and the Indiana Center for Neuroimaging, faculty are studying the neurobiology of TBI and the role it plays in contributing to psychiatric disorders. The Department of Psychiatry serves as the administrative and operations center for the Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium, a 30-site study of the natural history and neurobiology of concussion, as well as the largest study of concussion to date.

Investigators within the department are conducting novel behavioral and lifestyle interventions to improve brain health in older adults with memory complaints. The department also longitudinally follows and extensively characterizes older adults with normal cognition and those with the earliest stages of memory and cognitive loss due to Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions.