Bharathi Gadad, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, recently received a 2019 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant.
The grant was awarded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, originally called the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).
Dr. Gadad was one of 200 new faculty worldwide who received the grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and will use it to assist in the development of her own independent research program.
She was awarded $70,000 to fund a study titled, “Functional Characterization of Neuron-Microglial Specific Markers in Post-Mortem Brain Subjects of Major Depressive Disorder.”
Dr. Gadad’s research aims to uncover risk factors for suicide and major depression by using an innovative bioengineering technique to culture specialized brain cells, known as neurons and microglia, from postmortem brain tissue. Dr. Gadad will study neuron-microglia interactions to better understand their role in brain dysfunction.
Residents of El Paso County experience higher rates of frequent mental distress than other counties in Texas, according to Healthy Paso Del Norte. Recent surveys show that an estimated 12.5% of adults in the county reported mental distress that lasted for an extended period of time.
In 2018, the El Paso County Office of the Medical Examiner reported 83 deaths due to suicide, a climb from the previous year. Individuals between the ages of 22 and 47 made up 62% of suicides, and suicide victims were most frequently male.
“I am honored to receive this award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation,” said Dr. Gadad. “It will help me immensely at this this early stage in my scientific career.”
Dr. Gadad looks forward to helping the community through research that could potentially lead to intervention and treatment for mental health issues. “The proposed research will have a great impact on the El Paso community since the subjects utilized in the study are from the U.S.-Mexico border region,” she said. “This will help us to unravel the risk factors for suicide and major depression.”
Learn more about the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s Young Investigator Grant Program by downloading the 2019 grantee and project publication at this link (PDF).
Author: David Peregrino – TTUHSC El Paso