The Center has advanced many research initiatives related to the improved detection of and treatment for suicide.
Maura Boldrini, MD, PhD
Dr. Boldrini is an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Human Neurobiology Laboratory and the Quantitative Human Brain Biology Institute (Brain QUANT) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is also a research scientist at Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene and attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. She is interested in understanding how the brain is capable of coping with severe stress through responses than confer resilience versus vulnerability to psychiatric illness. Her lab has been investigating mechanisms by which antidepressants help the human brain to regenerate, which is one of the ways our brain copes with physiological and environmental stressors. They have also shown that we make new neurons into our eighth decade of life (Boldrini, et al. Cell Stem Cell, 2018), and brain growth and rewiring appear enhanced in resilient individuals who successfully coped with early life trauma, compared to depressed suicide subjects (Boldrini, et al. Biological Psychiatry, 2019). Her lab further identified a molecule involved in the formation of neuron connections, which is altered in depressed women exposed to recent life stress and related to maladaptive fear responses in mice (Besnard, et al., Cell Reports, 2018). Her lab also demonstrated that the hippocampus, a brain area important for memory, is smaller in subjects with current, but not past, depression (Calati, et al.Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 2019), suggesting that brain changes associated with depression are reversible.
1. Hippocampal Circuit Plasticity in Human Normal Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
Grant: R56 AG063372
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: This project aims to study the growth of new neurons, examine how stem cells separate off into other types of cells, and measure connectivity and blood vessel health in normally aging individuals compared to Alzheimer’s Disease.
2. Brain Proteomics to Understand Suicidal Behavior Biosignatures
Grant: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (Standard Research Grant)
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: This study uses proteomics to compare the brains of people with major depression who died either by suicide or from other causes with non-psychiatric controls. This study focuses particularly on the anterior dentate gyrus, a brain area associated with suicide, and its main goal is to identify biomarkers and treatment targets for the reduction of suicide.
3. Antecedents of Suicidal Behavior Related Neurobiology
Grant: P50 MH090964
Role: Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator: J. John Mann, MD)
Description: This Conte Center project aims to study the neural circuitry and molecular detail of abnormal stress responses in suicide and nonfatal suicidal behavior, emphasizing potential etiological and pathogenic roles of the inflammasome, HPA axis, and BDNF.
Boldrini, M., Galfalvy, H., Dwork, A. J., Rosoklija, G. B., Trencevska-Ivanovska, I., Pavlovski, G., Hen, R., Arango, V., & Mann, J. J. (2019). Resilience is associated with larger dentate gyrus, while suicide decedents with major depressive disorder have fewer granule neurons. Biological Psychiatry, 85(10), 850-862.
Besnard, A., Langberg, T., Levinson, S., Chu, D., Vicidomini, C., Scobie, K. N., Dwork, A. J., Arango, V., Rosoklija, G. B., Mann, J. J., Hen, R., Leonardo, E. D., Boldrini, M., & Sahay, A. (2018). Targeting kruppel-like factor 9 in excitatory neurons protects against chronic stress-induced impairments in dendritic spines and fear responses. Cell Reports, 23(11), 3183-3196.
Boldrini, M., Fulmore, C. A., Tartt, A. N., Simeon, L. R., Pavlova, I., Poposka, V., Rosoklija, G. B., Stankov, A., Arango, V., Dwork, A. J., Hen, R., & Mann, J. J. (2018). Human hippocampal neurogenesis persists throughout aging. Cell Stem Cell, 22(4), 589-599.e5.
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