Foundation of Hope Gives Big Boost to UNC Mental Health Research

Published on 01/18/2017 under News

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2017

Raleigh, NC — In its latest effort to derail the debilitating effects of mental illness, the Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness recently awarded over $300,000 in research grants to two investigators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Flavio Frohlich and Dr. Garret Stuber, both of the UNC Department of Psychology, impressed the Foundation with their proposals for new ways to investigate the causes of, and potentially develop treatments for, mood disorders.

This latest investment in mental health research adds to the $265,000 of Foundation funding given to six other grantees in 2016.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mood disorders like postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD take their toll on up to 1 in 5 United States adults each year. Even minor manifestations of a mental illness can cripple a person’s ability to function; the damage is often compounded by rampant social stigma and alienation.

The research funded by the Foundation of Hope could lead to breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, improving the lives and livelihoods of those who suffer.

Dr. Frohlich’s current exploration of noninvasive brain stimulation began with a Foundation grant in 2012, and continued in 2015 with an additional $200,000 award. The third phase of this project, bolstered by a $156,000 grant, will attempt to integrate electrical and magnetic stimulation—two methods often used separately—to target specific trouble spots and improve overall brain function.

Dr. Stuber was previously awarded a $45,000 grant to explore ways individual brain neurons respond to certain hormonal conditions, with the goal of developing more targeted therapies for reproductive mood disorders. With this latest grant of $163,000, Dr. Stuber and his team will conduct a detailed investigation into the way our genes are expressed in our behavior. If they discover any patterns, their data could help other psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental illness earlier and more effectively.

“We are so incredibly fortunate to have raised enough money to fund a second grant cycle in 2016,” says executive director Shelley Eure Belk. “This is thanks to the tremendous efforts of our loyal sponsors, walkers, and participants in all our events.”

Grants Awarded

Garret Stuber, Ph.D. | Award: $163,000 | “Deep Phenotyping of Behavioral Patterns Associated with Neuropsychiatric Disease”

Flavio Frohlich, Ph.D. | Award: $156,000 | “Achieving Synergy with Multimodal Brain Stimulation: Electricity Meets Magnetism”

About The Foundation of Hope

The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Through its partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Psychiatry, the Foundation funds critical research focused on understanding the root causes of, and potential cures for, brain diseases. Since 1984, The Foundation has awarded 128 scientific research grants totaling more than $5 million; these funds have leveraged an additional $145 million from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies. To learn more, or to donate, visit, or call 919-781-9255.

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