I am a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and a cognitive neuroscientist. I have devoted my career to understanding the neural basis and nature of fundamental cognitive deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders, primarily schizophrenia. I serve as a Psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. I also serve as the Director of the Laboratory for Multimodal Neuroimaging of Executive Function in the Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging at MGH. I have been conducting NIMH sponsored patient oriented research (POR) continuously since the initiation of my K23 award in 1999. Since 2003, I have been the PI on an R01 entitled, Spatiotemporal dynamics of context processing in schizophrenia. The goal of this work is to identify the neural bases of fundamental cognitive deficits using complementary neuroimaging techniques. I am also the PI on the new parent R01 entitled, Sleep-Dependent Memory Processing in Schizophrenia, which will link a specific cognitive deficit (impaired memory consolidation) to a particular mechanism (abnormal sleep spindles) and provide an effective treatment (eszopiclone, which restored sleep spindles and memory in a placebo-controlled pilot study). More broadly, this research program has the potential to substantially expand current models of cognitive deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders and lead to effective interventions. I work in an incredibly rich environment for clinica research and have assembled a dream team of collaborators. I receive no institutional support for mentoring or research and without additional funding, I will have to curtail these activities t assume significant clinical responsibilities beginning in 2012. The K24 will protect time that would otherwise be diverted to clinical responsibilities and allow me to devote more time to providing intensive ongoing mentorship to junior investigators in POR (30%) and to further develop my expertise in the neuroscience and measurement of sleep via new training and research (20%) while continuing to devote 50% of my effort to conducting funded POR that translates advances in neuroscience into treatments for cognitive deficits.
Schizophrenia affects 1% of the population worldwide and cognitive deficits are the strongest predictor of poor functional outcome. Sleep plays a critical role in learning and memory, and patients with schizophrenia show abnormal sleep that is related to impaired memory. This K24 will support mentoring and training of both the PI and talented junior clinical scientists in translational research aimed at understanding and treating the disabling cognitive deficits in schizophrenia that are related to sleep.