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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience


Postdoc Research Associate Dr Christian Wood was recently selected for a 2023 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF; previously called the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia & Depression [NARSAD].

The BBRF is a US charity that funds research focusing on understanding mental illnesses, awarding two-year grants to support the work of promising young scientists with innovative ideas in mental health research. This year it is awarding over $10.2 million in Young Investigator Grants to 150 promising early career scientists with innovative ideas in mental health research. The scientists are seeking to identify causes, improve treatments, and develop methods of prevention for psychiatric illnesses that impact millions of people in the United States and throughout the world.

Dr Wood, who works with Professor Angela Roberts, was awarded a 2yr grant totalling $70,000 for his project: “Behavioral, physiological and neurobiological consequences of chronic subcallosal cingulate Area 25 overactivation in the common marmoset”.

Dr Wood's research is primarily about trying to understand how individual parts of the brain are involved in controlling processes relevant to psychiatric symptoms. One brain region he has been studying as part of the Roberts lab is called ‘Area 25’, which is heavily implicated in depression, often seen to be hyperactive and is currently being targeted for deep brain stimulation for severe depression. The lab's recent work in marmosets has shown how acutely activating Area 25 can induce depression and anxiety-like symptoms – however this doesn’t necessarily model the long term dysfunction observed in patients. The NARSAD Young Investigator grant will enable Dr Wood to look at the multifaceted impact of chronically activating Area 25 akin to that seen in patients, combining a viral based system, called chemogenetics, with complex behavioural, physiological and neuroimaging analysis.

Jeffrey Borenstein, President of the BBRF said “BBRF Young Investigators represent a new generation of researchers who will pioneer breakthroughs in mental health research. We are excited to be able to support the work of these young scientists, who will apply powerful new technologies and insights to understanding, treating, and curing mental illness."