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Taking a Closer Look at Depression

BME professor receives $3.5 million NIMH grant for brain imaging study

Christine DeLorenzo, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Psychiatry in the Renaissance School of MedicineDepression remains a leading disorder worldwide with treatments that have limited benefits for many patients with only 33% of individuals with depression responding to conventional treatments. A cross-disciplinary team of researchers at Stony Brook received a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for an imaging study of individuals with depression. Co-led by Christine DeLorenzo, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Psychiatry in the Renaissance School of Medicine , the project is designed to understand the effects of inflammation in the brain on depression, and how targeted intervention can reduce inflammation and, ultimately, symptoms of depression. 

On the premise that depression is a series of brain abnormalities that lead to what looks like depression rather than a unitary disorder, the researchers will use Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to look inside the brains of those suffering from depression and quantify the degree of inflammation in the brain. “A link between depression and markers of inflammation in the brain has been suspected for several years, but is somewhat controversial” said Kenneth Kaushansky, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine. “The study proposed by Chrissy, Ramin and Stella will provide robust data that could settle the controversy, and provide meaningful insights into ways to intervene in a disorder that affects 7-8 percent of the US population”.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

“Christine’s work on imaging in the brain is a great example of how we can use today AI and engineering-driven medicine to diagnose and treat mental illness and aging disorders, like depression and Alzheimers,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “I applaud the multi-disciplinary approach to tackling grand challenge problems like depression and look forward to the progress of this life-changing research.”

DeLorenzo’s lab at Stony Brook University focuses on the neurobiology of mental illness using brain imaging, AI and technology to obtain the most comprehensive views of the brain possible.  She says: “if we know exactly what is altered in the biology, then we can develop the next generation of treatments.”

Prof. DeLorenzo’s comments in this video announcing the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation

DeLorenzo is Director of the Center for Understanding Biology Using Imaging Technology , which u ses advanced imaging modalities to investigate neuropsychiatric disorders and their treatment. They are making important discoveries related to psychiatric disorders as well as using new techniques for quantification and analysis.

She is also on the faculty of Stony Brook’s new Institute for AI-Driven-Discovery and Innovation and the Institute for Engineering-Driven Medicine

In addition to Professor DeLorenzo, the interdisciplinary project team includes: 
Ramin Parsey , MD, Department of Psychiatry, Co-PI
Stella Tsirka , Professor of Pharmacological Sciences