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The Silvio O. Conte Center for Translational Mental Health Research at McLean Hospital studies the ways in which stress re-wires the brain and causes persistent changes in sleep and circadian rhythms. The aim is to discover how these changes contribute to psychiatric illnesses such as depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
McLean Hospital investigators were awarded a $13.5 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to support this research into stress chemicals and circuits in the brain. The grant allows McLean to bring together researchers from across the institution who have been working separately on projects related to stress and the brain factors that regulate it.
Through the center, scientists will examine “stress peptides,” which are brain chemicals that regulate the body’s responses to stress. The work includes molecular-to-behavioral analyses using animal models, humans, and human brains donated for research.
The center is designed to discover not only new brain targets for medication development, but also a basis for identifying areas that will improve the field’s ability to accurately diagnose mental health conditions and see when treatments are working.