Foundation of Hope awards nearly half a million dollars for SOM research

Seven UNC School of Medicine researchers were awarded grants to combat a range of conditions, including bulimia, addiction, post-traumatic stress, and mood disorders.

July 2, 2019

In its continuing efforts to curb the debilitating effects of mental illness, the Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness will award over $480,000 in research grants to seven investigators from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Their projects encompass a range of mental and behavioral conditions, including bulimia, opioid addiction, post-traumatic stress, and women’s mood disorders.

Here are the awardees are:

Jessica Baker, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and associate research director for the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, was awarded $46,942 for her project: “A Mechanistic Examination of Continuous-Cycle Oral Contraceptive Administration in Bulimia Nervosa.”

Paul Geiger, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychiatry, was awarded $38,400 for his project: “Depression in the Menopause Transition: Cortisol Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Impairment as Mechanisms of Risk.”

Zoe McElligott, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and member of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, was award $50,000 for her project: “Evaluating Oxytocin in Opioid Withdrawal: A Translational Study.”

Rebekah Nash, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, was awarded $39,886 for her project: “Genetic Risk Factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients.”

Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center, was awarded $200,000 for his project: “Dissecting the Neural Circuits of Hyperarousal States in Psychiatry.”

Guorong Wu, PhD, research assistant professor of psychiatry, was awarded $39,069 for his project: “Quantifying the brain developmental trajectory of autism-associated brain overgrowth using 3D cellular resolution imaging.”

Anthony Zannas, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, was awarded $75,000 for his project: “Epigenetic Mechanism of Post-traumatic Stress After Sexual Assault.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mood disorders like postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD take their toll on up to 1 in 5 United States adults each year. Even minor manifestations of a mental illness can cripple a person’s ability to function; the damage is often compounded by rampant social stigma and alienation. The research funded by the Foundation of Hope could lead to breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, improving the lives and livelihoods of those who suffer.

“We are so proud to be funding these innovative research studies,” says Shelley Belk, executive director of the Foundation of Hope. “This is a tremendous amount of money, and I'm overcome with appreciation for all of our supporters who donated and volunteered. This would not be possible without them.”

Media contact: Mark Derewicz, 984-974-1915

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