Director’s Blog The Research!America awards dinner is like a lot of DC galas, complete with members of Congress, celebrities, and speeches to honor those who have contributed to a cause.  For Research!America, the cause is biomedical research and this year, as in each of the past 25 years, there were honors bestowed on advocates for cancer and rare diseases.  Kathy Giusti, diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1998, spoke passionately about the lack of research on this blood cancer and her singular fight to create a registry and clinical trials, leading to new treatments that have extended her own life and the lives of many others well beyond all predictions.  The parents of Sam Berns, an icon for the rare disease progeria, spoke of their son’s commitment to find a cure for this disorder in which children age rapidly and die early.  Sam died last month at age 17, but during his brief life, and partly through his efforts working with the world’s foremost genetics labs, the genetic cause was found and new treatments were developed that will almost certainly extend life for others with this rare mutation (see Sam’s inspirational Ted talk ).  For me, what made this event different from previous years was the recognition of advocates for people with mental illness.  The actress Glenn Close was recognized for co-founding BringChange2Mind, a campaign to reduce negative attitudes toward those with mental illness.  In her eloquent remarks accepting the award, Glenn introduced her sister, Jessie Close, and her nephew, Calen Pick, who each battle serious mental illness.  Jessie has struggled with bipolar disorder and Calen with schizophrenia.  When Glenn invited Jessie and Calen to make a few remarks, the evening really became historic.  Together, they described a journey undertaken with Deborah Levy and her colleagues at McLean Hospital and elsewhere over the past 3 years.   The research team found that Calen and Jessie shared a rare genomic copy number variant resulting in extra copies of the gene for glycine decarboxylase.  This gene encodes the enzyme that degrades glycine, a key modulator of the NMDA receptor, which has been implicated in psychosis.  Having extra copies of this gene, it seemed possible that Jessie and Calen would be deficient in glycine, with less activity of the NMDA receptor.   When Dr. Levy and her colleagues gave glycine to Jessie and Calen under double blind conditions (in which neither doctor nor patient know whether glycine or placebo is being given), the response was like giving insulin to a person with diabetes—their psychiatric symptoms largely resolved.  When the drug was stopped, their symptoms returned. When they received glycine again under non-blind conditions, the same improvements were observed.

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Director’s Blog *Dr. Insel was one of several innovative leaders invited to present at the 2014 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference. Download his presentation: Quest for the Cure: Scientific Breakthroughs in Treating Mental Illness

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Director’s Blog Released today, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s report, ” Preventing Suicide: A global imperative ,” provides the first global view of how often suicide attempts and deaths occur, and how suicide-related behaviors affect all ages, nationalities, economic levels, and cultures. Every year around the world more than 800,000 people die by suicide. Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15- to 20-year-olds.

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One of the upsides of so many snowstorms this winter has been the chance to catch up on reading. I’ve been enjoying Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s book the Second Machine Age about the social revolution instigated by the digital revolution.

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Abstract: Background: For pathological gambling (PG) a 12 month prevalence rate of up to 0.66% has been reported. Multiple financial, occupational and relationship problems and losses, humiliation of the person and the environment are possible side effects and may lead to hopelessness, suicidal ideation and behaviour. Suicide attempt rates among pathological gamblers of between 4 and 40% and suicidal ideation of between 12 and 92% have been reported.Aim: This study aims at assessing the prevalence of suicide attempts in PG and at elucidating differences between the patients with and without suicide attempt history (SAH) in a large nationwide Austrian sample.Methods: Between 2002 and 2011 the Austrian Society for the Research of Non-Substance Related Addiction collected 862 questionnaires of pathological gamblers undergoing outpatient and inpatient treatment for pathological gambling in Austria.Results: 1) Of all pathological gamblers 9.7% had a suicide attempt history

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More than 38, 000 Americans died by suicide in 2010, the most recent year for which we have national data. This makes suicide, once again, the tenth leading cause of death for all ages; the second leading cause of death for young adults ages 25 to 34. 1 Despite changes in recent decades that might reasonably have been expected to reduce suicide rates—increased awareness about mental disorders, the availability of treatment, and community-based public health efforts aimed directly at preventing suicide—U.S.

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Last week I attended the Partners for Cure (P4C) meeting in New York. This is an annual meetup for an odd mix of academic scientists, advocacy groups, venture capitalists, social entrepreneurs, and biotech-pharma folks.

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Abstract: Objective: Although the Internet is used effectively in many areas of life, some users experience problems because of over-use due to a lack of control. The diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction include disruptions in family relationships, but adequate data on the attachment styles and family functioning associated with this condition are limited. This study aimed to investigate the attachment styles and family functioning of patients with Internet addiction.Method: The sample included 30 male patients consecutively admitted to the Bak?rköy Mental Health and Research Hospital Internet Addiction Outpatient Clinic, who were diagnosed in clinical interviews as having Internet addiction according to Young’s (1998) criteria.

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For the past few years, we at NIMH have been increasingly focusing our research on serious mental illness (SMI). You can see the term SMI in recent blogs as well as in publications from NIMH.

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Since September 11, 2001, more than 2.5 million service members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In contrast to previous wars, these recent wars have been fought by an all-volunteer force that has experienced multiple deployments. Many of the service members are in reserve or National Guard units

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