Research & Innovation
Children’s Hospital Boston is at the forefront of basic science and clinical research, and our psychiatric research program is one of the most accomplished and innovative in the nation. We are constantly making discoveries that may lead to new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
Some of Children’s recent research breakthroughs with exciting possibilities for the treatment of schizophrenia include:
Exploring the role of brain white matter in schizophrenia
A team led by Gabriel Corfas, PhD, researcher in Children's Department of Neurology and Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement, has uncovered the best evidence to date to suggest that defects in the brain’s white matter—tissues responsible for channeling communications throughout the nervous system—are a major contributor to schizophrenia. This raises the possibility of diagnosing the disease earlier and perhaps developing preventive treatments.
Understanding the brain's “master switch”
Children’s neuroscientists have identified the first known "master switch" in brain cells. This switch, called Npas4, orchestrates the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses, which are essential for proper brain function. Npas4 regulates more than 200 genes that act in various ways to calm “overexcited” cells, restoring the balance that is believed to go awry in schizophrenia and other neurologic disorders, such as autism and epilepsy.
|Leading the way in calling for mental health reform|
In 2006, Children’s co-authored a paper, “Children’s Mental Health in the Commonwealth: The Time is NOW” that highlighted the critical need for increased, improved and revitalized mental health services for Massachusetts children and families. Today, Children’s is working closely with other health providers, nonprofit organizations, educators and parent groups to advocate for a comprehensive reform of the state’s mental health system. Learn more about our efforts.