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Dr. Cheryl Conrad receives IMHR grant


March 03, 2008

Dr. Conrad received a grant from the Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) to study how chronic stress influences prefrontal cortex function in both sexes. We are studying chronic stress because it produces changes in brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex, that are consistent with those observed by major affective disorder (depression), suggesting that chronic stress and depression share common mechanisms. Moreover, stress is often a precipitating factor in depression and an important contributor to other psychiatric illnesses including Schizophrenia. The expression of depression is more than twice as likely in women as men.

Despite this sex difference, basic biomedical research primarily uses male, not female, subjects to study the effects of chronic stress on brain structure and function. Therefore, we will be studying both sexes to understand how chronic stress influences the brain and increases predisposition to mood disorders.