“I can’t adequately express my appreciation to the Foundation of Hope for their role in educating the public about the ravages of mental illness and for their steadfast and critical support of psychiatric research.”
—David Rubinow, M.D., Assad Meymandi Professor and
Chair of Psychiatry, UNC School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Since 1984, The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness has awarded 128 scientific research grants totaling more than $5 million; subsequently, these funds have leveraged an additional $145 million from the National Institute of Health and other federal agencies.
The Foundation of Hope funds scientists whose projects explore the biological, neurological, and genetic bases of mental illness, and which forge paths to improved diagnosis and treatment. Researchers who apply for funding do so with projects that shed light on the causes of, treatments for, and even potential cures for, mental illness.
The projects we support focus on a variety of mental disorders, including but not limited to:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Postpartum depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social phobias
2017-2018 Research Grants
In May 2017, the Foundation of Hope awarded over $399,280 to seven investigators. These funds support efforts to discover more effective treatments for—among other mental illnesses—eating disorders, depression, and opioid addiction and withdrawal, as well as experiments striving to mitigate the side effects of treatment for schizophrenia.
BEGIN is the first study of its kind to combine genome-wide association study with an investigation of microbes across 5 bodily sites, coupled with capture of behavioral features (binge eating, purging, exercise, sleep) and mood using the Recovery Record app adapted to Apple Watch technology. We will paint a rich biological and behavioral picture of binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa that will allow us to identify genetic and microbiota contributors to disorder risk and maintenance; identify genomic, microbiota, and behavioral predictors of outcome; and to build algorithms that predict behavioral events (e.g., impending binges or purges) to enable real-time intervention via wearable technology.
Fredrik Jarskog, M.D. | Award: $99,900
To date, the only effective medications to treat the symptoms associated with schizophrenia are the “antipsychotic” class of medications. Unfortunately, these medications have many possible side effects, including involuntary muscle movements known as tardive dyskinesia (TD). There is a small body of evidence, however, to suggest that pyridoxine (also known as Vitamin B6) may help alleviate the symptoms of TD; this study will build on that research, and test whether pyridoxine represents an effective treatment.
Hiroyuki Kato, Ph.D. | Award: $100,000
Recent studies on autistic patients have accumulated rich knowledge on these diseases at both genetic and behavioral levels. However, we still know little about the neuronal circuit mechanisms that connect the gene mutations to the behavioral deficits. Researchers will study how disturbed interplay between excitatory and inhibitory neurons leads to auditory processing deficits in autistic brains. The circuit-level knowledge obtained in this study will help identifying the novel therapeutic entry points for developing future treatments.
Darin Knapp, Ph.D. | Award: $39,210
In this research, researchers will use a novel mouse line to test the involvement of a specific neural circuit in brain in controlling alcohol intoxication. Selected cells in this circuit will be manipulated in an attempt to enhance or diminish the magnitude of intoxication. If the role of the circuit and cells can be shown, future work would expand the analysis of the neural connections to this circuit with the goal of inspiring novel avenues for therapeutic intervention in alcohol used disorders.
Dr. Cort Pedersen | Award: $40,808
Testing oxytocin treatment of opioid withdrawal
Opioid use disorders have emerged as a public health crisis over the past 20 years; opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for United States adults 25-44 years old. Aside from the initial difficulties posed by opioid addiction—which is notoriously difficult to treat—opioid drug use also complicates mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, PTSD, and depression. Dr. Pedersen and his team have already shown that the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT), administered intranasally, can block withdrawal and diminish drinking in alcohol-addicted subjects. Now they hope to show that it can be effective in reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Joseph Piven, M.D., with Mark Zylka, Ph.D. and Jason Stein, Ph.D. | Award: $40,000
This grant will take a first step towards developing a polygenic risk score for brain overgrowth in a large sample of human neural progenitor cells. Understanding the genetic basis of brain overgrowth will enable the development of this important tool for identification of infants at increased risk for the overgrowth form of autism in the general population.
Crystal Schiller, Ph.D. | Award: $39,357
Characterizing the Hormone Sensitive Phenotype of Postpartum Depression: An Experimental Investigation of Mood, Behavior, and Brain Function