Research for Better Lives

by Barbara Wheeler, NARSAD manager of communications and media relations

I’ve been working at NARSAD for just over a month and am continuously learning how brain scientists are unraveling the mysteries of mental illness.

Last week, I edited summaries of research proposals from NARSAD 2010 Independent Investigators – researchers at the leading edge of discovery within neuroscience and psychiatry. Their work spans a wide range of mental health research. They are doing basic research, identifying new technologies and developing diagnostic tools to enable improved treatments and lead to cures for a broad range of mental health disorders.

Reading these research proposals, I realize how much we already know about brain function, as well as how much there is still to learn. NARSAD researchers have been making discoveries for decades, and continue to do so, developing more advanced treatments for people living with brain-related behavioral disorders. For people affected by mental illness – patients, and their families and friends – the research and science discoveries are promising steps toward alleviating their suffering.

Discovering a new diagnostic technique or treatment for schizophrenia, identifying genetic variations of autism spectrum disorder, finding effective tools to help people struggling to live with depression are all topics of NARSAD-funded research. New discoveries can improve the lives of 1 in 4 Americans that live with mental health disorders. This research is to improve people’s lives. NARSAD has already funded 57 scientists with $5.7 million this year (22 more scientists than 2009), investing in breakthroughs – to find a cure.

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