The goal of our research is to develop a better understanding of changes in brain chemistry related to schizophrenia, in order to prevent and treat it more effectively. Two areas of interest are the brain’s response to stress, which is a risk factor for schizophrenia, and brain inflammation in mental illness.
We have established one of the first research programs and clinics for young people at high risk of developing schizophrenia, who have shown mild symptoms of the disease. One brain chemical of interest is dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with schizophrenia. Our research has shown that stress increases levels of dopamine in high risk individuals more than people with no symptoms, which suggests that modulating this stress response may help delay or prevent schizophrenia.
A new area of research is using PET imaging to understand the role of inflammation in the brain in the development of schizophrenia and other illnesses.
- understanding the role of brain inflammation in schizophrenia as well as Alzheimer’s disease, using the 18[F]-FEPPA chemical brain probe, developed at CAMH’s Research Imaging Centre
- studying stress-induced release of dopamine in patients with schizophrenia and in individuals at clinical high risk of schizophrenia
- examining cross-sensitization – an increase in dopamine response – to both stress and cannabis in these populations
- investigating new antipsychotics with different mechanisms of action
Dr. Romina Mizrahi, MD, PhD