Researcher, Douglas Institute
Labeled by the National Institute of Mental Health as "the most chronic and disabling of the severe mental illnesses", schizophrenia afflicts about 1% of the population. For over two decades, Lalit Srivastava, PhD, has conducted research on this devastating disease of the mind, as well as on dopamine, a brain chemical implicated in its development.
Lalit Srivastava and his team are using animal models to test the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia. In particular, they have found that damage or activity blockade in certain regions of a rat pup's brain, such as the frontal cortex or the hippocampus, leads to profound behavioral and neurochemical changes in the adult animals, somewhat akin to those observed in human schizophrenia.
Currently, using state-of-the-art behavioral and molecular tools such as DNA microarrays, the team is trying to decipher mechanisms that contribute to behavioral alterations following neonatal brain manipulations. Lalit Srivastava is also examining the molecular bases of long-term effects of chronic psychostimulant consumption, which, besides being relevant to understanding psychosis, impacts upon our understanding of drug addiction.
Finally, this research group is conducting biochemical and genetic studies on neural cell adhesion molecules. This last line of research triggered a breakthrough in 1995. Lalit Srivastava, in collaboration with Remi Quirion, PhD, discovered that a protein - polysialylated isoform neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) – critical to neurodevelopmental processes, is underexpressed by 20-95% in the hippocampal brain region of schizophrenic patients.
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