April, 2011
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Society of Biological Psychiatry
"Scientists collaborating to eliminate the the suffering of mental illness."
In This Issue
SOBP Vision Statement
Message from the Editor
2011 Meeting - Important Updates
Lab Corner
Journal Updates
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SOBP Contact Information
SOBP Vision Statement

The vision of the Society of Biological Psychiatry is to integrate, advance, and promulgate science relevant to psychiatric disorders, in order to reduce or prevent the suffering of people with these conditions.

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Biological Psychiatry

2011 Annual Meeting
Message from the Editor

                          Paradigm Shifts

2010 Gold Medal O'Brien Award     At the turn of the 20th century, with the publication of Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud initiated a paradigm shift in psychiatry from phenomenologic investigation of mental illness to topographic theories of mind, characterized by the practice of psychoanalysis. In the United States, psychoanalysis quickly rose to dominate psychiatric thought and would do so for the next 60-70 years, although the specific benefit for patients with major mental illness remain unclear, to be sure. However, in 1945, a small band of psychiatrists formed the Society of Biological Psychiatry in response to this U.S. infatuation with psychoanalysis in lieu of a more medical approach to psychiatric care. Those individuals presented US psychiatry with a second paradigm shift that encouraged development of neuroscience consideration of psychiatric conditions. What followed was the discovery of lithium, imipramine, MAOI's, chlorpromazine, and all of the other medications that revolutionized psychiatric care. 

     Under the guidance of regulatory agencies, medication development evolved into a specific approach of defining a patient group through symptom constructs (e.g., the DSM system) and then proceeding with double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials to identify drug efficacy in the so-defined population. There is little doubt that this approach has been successful toward developing the relatively large number of medications we now have available to treat our patients. However, we seem to have stalled.

     During the past decade, although there have been advances in some therapeutic areas (e.g., atypical antipsychotics in bipolar disorder), primarily in changing side-effect burdens of our treatments, we have made relatively little headway toward identifying new therapies that provide significantly improved treatment efficacy and specificity. Our methods of identifying new treatments seem to have been bogged down in iterative 'me too' drug development, copying existing drug mechanisms with relatively little progress toward truly novel treatments. Concurrently, there has been an increasing outcry from the general public, advocacy groups, and government agencies to demonstrate meaningful treatment advances in psychiatry. It seems we are once again in need of a paradigm shift.  

     Not so coincidentally, our conference this year is entitled "Paradigm Shifts in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders:  Past Lessons, Current Trends, Future Possibilities." With this focus in mind, I encourage all of us to think critically about our work and ways to reframe our approaches to treatment development in mental illness when we descend upon San Francisco. Is it time to move beyond the DSM? (I'll save a later editorial to discuss my view that there is no clinical or research need for a DSM-V, but for now, let's keep this as a "teaser"). Are there viable endophenotypes to guide treatment development? Can neuroimaging or psychiatric genetics really capture the complexities of human behavior? Paradigm shifts typically arise from the young - individuals not so entrenched in the system (e.g., conservative NIH funding) that allows them to safely challenge assumptions. When Albert Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the way the universe worked (which had been entrenched in Newtonian mechanics for centuries) he was a patent clerk unconstrained by convention. Perhaps as you wander through the poster sessions, we will discover the next budding mental health investigator who will challenge how we think about psychiatric treatment development.  SOBP helped to lead the last paradigm shift in psychiatry in 1945. Now in 2011, I challenge us to take this spirit with us to San Francisco and have a truly enjoyable and intellectually challenging meeting (while enjoying good company and food)!


Best  Wishes,

Stephen M. Strakowski, MD

The Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chairman

Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati


2011 Annual Meeting - Important Updates

2011 Banner 76% 
Paradigm Shifts in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders:  
 Past Lessons, Current Trends, Future Possibilities

The Society of Biological Psychiatry's Program Committee looks forward to welcoming all annual meeting attendees to San Francisco in May.  The Program Committee has worked diligently to design a diverse educational program with a broad range of topics and  of interest to researchers and clinicians.  Visit www.sobp.org for updates regarding the meeting, the latest preliminary program, and hotel and meeting registration information.  Please join us for the premier educational event in biological psychiatry.  
We are only 4 weeks away from the annual meeting.  Based on registrations so far, we are expecting a large number of your colleagues to attend and present their most recent research.  Don't miss the opportunity to participate. 
Important updates:
Register before the April 29th deadline
If you haven't already registered, please do so before the April 29th deadline.  We will accommodate on-site registration but the fees will increase by $100, so register on-line now or before April 29th and save $$$sss.  If you have any questions regarding your registration, email sobp@sobp.org.
  • Members presenting in any session type or attending must register
  • Non-members presenting in an oral or poster session must register
  • Non-members presenting in a symposium have been pre-registered.   
Reserve your hotel room
You should already have your hotel room reserved.  If not, please visit our home page at www.sobp.org for a list of available hotels.  Many of our room blocks are already sold out but we have added additional hotels close to the Hyatt. 


On-Line Program Planner

The program is finalized including the late-breaking abstracts.  To view the entire program now and to create your personalized itinerary use the On-Line Program Planner    


Ebooks - Paper-Lite Conference

This is a Paper-Lite Conference.  The hard copy of the abstract book will be mailed as a supplement to the journal of Biological Psychiatry to members of the Society.  Non-members attending the meeting will receive a hard copy at the registration desk. 


However, you may wish to download the abstract book to your ebook or smart phone so you can search for information, mark abstracts, and make notes using Ebook technology.  Click here to download instructions for a variety of devices.


Private Tour of the Oakland Zoo

A private tour of the Oakland Zoo will be offered on Sunday morning at 10:00 am highlighting animal behavior patterns relevant to psychiatry. Explore mammalian neurochemistry from a zoo's perspective while enjoying a unique botanical setting.  The Oakland Zoo is a national leader in innovative animal management methods.  Loretta Breuning with the Oakland Zoo will be in the registration area on Thursday, May 12th.  If you are interested in attending, please stop by her desk on Thursday to sign-up for this special tour.  All arrangements and transportation is the responsibility of the attendee.  For questions or to make a reservation, email Loretta at Loretta@imammalthebook.com


Invitation to McLean Hospital's 200th Anniversary at APA Meeting

Attending the APA meeting in Hawaii?  You are cordially invited to join McLean Hospital President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, and the Harvard Medical School-Affiliated Departments of Psychiatry as we celebrate McLean Hospital's 200th anniversary during the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting on May 16th. 


See you in San Francisco!


Satellite Meeting - International Society on Research Impulsivity  - May 11, 2011
ISRI Scientific Meeting - International Society for Research on Impulsivity

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Bayview Room A - Hyatt Regency San Francisco



Planning to attend the SOBP Meeting?  Come one day earlier and attend the ISRI Meeting on May 11th at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.    

NCDEU 51st Annual Meeting

The NEW NCDEU 51st Annual Meeting

Boca Raton Resort & Club

June 13 - 16, 2011



 The 2011 NCDEU Program and Steering Committee proudly introduces this year's preliminary schedule of sessions for the 51st meeting.  This year, unlike in the past, panel sessions will begin on Monday morning, June 13th.  NCDEU now has expanded collaborations between NCDEU and the NIMH, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Authority (EMA).  These collaborations are reflected in panel; sessions beginning on Monday June 13, a plenary session with the leadership of the three Institutes and a joint session from FDA and EMA.  An additional innovation is a session called "Pharma pipeline presentations" that will focus on Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies on Wednesday, June 15.  Finally, a number of long established features will continue in 2011. These include late breaking research reports, workshops and the New Investigator Program.  Workshops will now occur throughout the meeting rather than on the first day, and the 13th NCDEU Fun Run will take place on Wednesday the 15th.   Visit www.NCDEUmeeting.org to view the preliminary program and to register for the meeting.

Lab Corner

Dr. Malhotra is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of The Zucker Hillside Hospital Division of Psychiatry Research. The Psychiatry Research Division focuses on research into the pathophysiology and treatment of the major mental disorders, and has been a leading national center for schizophrenia research for many years. Its current grant portfolio includes two federally-funded Center grants, as well as numerous individual project and career-development grants from the National Institutes of Health as well as private foundations.

The Division is comprised of two major Programs: the Program for Translational Research and the Program for Intervention and Services Research. The Program for Translational Research aims to identify the biological factors that influence risk for major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and to understand the relationship between biological risk factors and clinical manifestations of these disorders that critically influence the outcome of schizophrenia such as treatment response, symptom severity and neurocognitive and neuroimaging parameters. Primary research modalities include molecular genetics, neuroimaging and cognitive neuropsychology.  The Program for Intervention and Services Research aims to enhance the treatment and outcome of patients with major mental illnesses. Study designs include long-term naturalistic outcome designs, controlled pharmacological treatment trials and intensive cross-sectional biologic assessment protocols. A recently initiated large-scale project (P.I. John M. Kane, M.D.) assesses long-term multi-dimensional treatment strategies in patients experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia; and is the centerpiece of a large-scale NIMH-funded project entitled Recovery after an Initial Episode of Schizophrenia (RAISE). Together, the two programs house over a dozen laboratories, and provide an integrated approach to the understanding of these devastating and disabling brain disorders.

Anil K. Malhotra, MD
Director, Division of Psychiatry Research
The Zucker Hillside Hospital
75-59 263rd Street
Glen Oaks, NY 11004
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, NY
P. 718-470-8012
F. 718-343-1659

Biological Psychiatry Journal Updates


Biological Psychiatry Cover Picture

By Caleb M. Adler, MD

Important findings published in Biological Psychiatry


December 15, 2010

Commentary by Nicholas J. Brandon

Abazyan B, Nomura J, Kannan G, et al (2010). Prenatal interaction of mutant DISC1 and immune activation produces adult psychopathology. Biol Psychiatry 68:1172-1181 

The interaction of a prenatal environmental stressor, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) with hDISC1 truncation resulted in increased "affective symptoms" in male transgenic mice. Mice exposed to the combination of environmental and genetic stressors showed increased anxiety and depression-like symptoms as well as altered social behavior, compared with mice exposed to either stressor alone. These findings have potential implications for "two-hit" theories of psychiatric illness.


Commentary by Lawrence Scahill and George M. Anderson

Bedi G, Hyman D, de Wit H (2010). Is ecstasy an "empathogen"? Effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine on prosocial feelings and identification of emotional states in others. Biol Psychiatry 68:1134-1140 

Exposure to 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), particularly at higher doses was associated with reports of increased "loving" and "friendly" feelings but decreased recognition of fearful facial expressions. Contrary to the authors' expectations, methamphetamine exposure was associated with subject's feeling "sociable" and "playful." The combination of positive effects on the emotional component of empathy with decrements in performance on cognitive aspects raises questions as to the utility of MDMA for the treatment of disorders characterized by poor social relatedness, such as autism.  


January 1, 2011

Commentary by Francesco Papaleo and Daniel R. Weinberger

Karlsgodt K, Robleto K, Trantham-Davidson H, et al (2010). Reduced dysbindin expression mediates N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor hypofunction and impaired working memory performance. Biol Psychiatry 69(1):28-34 

The authors examined N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) function and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid receptor function in prefrontal cortical pyramidal neurons in conjunction with spatial working memory in dysbindin mutant ("sandy") mice. Dysbindin is encoded by dystrobrevin-binding protein one gene (DTNBP1), a candidate gene for schizophrenia, and plays a role in both glutamate and dopamine signaling. The prefrontal pyramidal neurons from affected mice showed decreased expression of the NMDA receptor complex NR1 and decreased NMDA-evoked currents; the former correlated with working memory performance. While genetic background and environmental factors no doubt play a role in moderating the effects of dysbindin mutations, these findings further support the role of dysbindin in modulating aspects of neuronal signaling implicated in psychosis.


Commentary by Robert W. Buchanan and Robert Schwarcz

Tregellas JR, Tanabe J, Rojas DC, et al (2010). Effects of an alpha 7-nicotinic agonist on default network activity in schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 69:7-11 

Castner SA, Smagin GN, Piser TM, et al (2010). Immediate and sustained improvements in working memory after selective stimulation of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Biol Psychiatry 69(1):12-18 

Two papers in this issue separately examine the effects of two partial agonists at the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in preclinical and clinical populations. Nicotinic agonists have shown only limited success in treating cognitive impairments in patients with schizophrenia despite a wealth of promising animal data. Castner and colleagues report their findings that in rhesus macaques cognitive improvement is observed only at AZD0328 doses significantly lower than those found to be cognitively enhancing in rodents- and that in a subset of the macaques, improvement in working memory performance was evident for a month or more after administration. In schizophrenic patients, Tregellas and colleagues found that administration of 3-(2,4-dimethoxybenzylidene)-anabaseine (DXMB-A) altered default network activity. The change in activity was moderated by the genotype of a subunit gene of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor previously associated with schizophrenia. Taken together, and in the context of previous findings, these studies suggest the potential clinical utility of nicotinic agonists while emphasizing the importance of dosing considerations in evaluating the effects of nicotinic agonists on clinical function.


January 15, 2011

Commentary by Paul J. Harrison 

The commentator reviews both the importance and potential impediments to research using post-mortem brains. The size of post-mortem studies has grown over the last two decades, and quality controls have significantly improved. Post-mortem studies now employ a wide range of research techniques that may serve to advance the field of biological psychiatry.


Februrary 1, 2011

Commentary by Bruce E. Wexler

Bickel WK, Yi R, Landes RD, et al (2011). Remember the future: working memory training decreases delay discounting among stimulant addicts. Biol Psychiatry 69(3):260-265 

Increased delay discounting has been noted in a variety of psychiatric conditions including substance use disorders. The authors discuss the observed association between high rates of discounting and poor working memory, and propose that increasing working memory might improve delay discounting. Stimulant-addicted subjects in treatment showed improved delayed discounting when trained on tasks of executive function while a control group who received the same rewards showed decreased delay discounting. While it is not entirely clear that the changes were driven by training on the cognitive tasks, these findings have potential implications across a range of psychiatric disorders.


Commentary by Stephen Rayport

Okvist A, Fagergren P, Whittard J, et al (2011). Dysregulated postsynaptic density and endocytic zone in the amygdala of human heroin and cocaine abusers. Biol Psychiatry 69(3):245-252 

Preclinical studies have suggested that glutamatergic plasticity in the forebrain is involved in aspects of drug seeking and taking  behaviors, but there has been little equivalent data in human subjects. The authors examined amygdalae of deceased drug users and found relationships between a post-synaptic scaffolding  protein and GluA1 glutamate receptors, and between other molecules involved in GluR trafficking to the post-synaptic membrane. These findings support suggestions that the strengthening of glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the amygdala represents a shared mechanism in drug addiction.


Februrary 15, 2011

Commentary by Joel E. Kleinman

Choi KH, Higgs BW, Wendland JR, et al (2011). Gene expression and genetic variation data implicate PCLO in bipolar disorder. Biol Psychiatry 69(4):353-359 

The authors identified 367 genes (400 transcripts) that were differentially expressed in post-mortem prefrontal brain tissue taken from bipolar patients versus controls. They found 45 cis SNP pairs with an association between gene expression and SNP genotype. One, an intro in the PCLO gene was associated with bipolar disorder. This study demonstrates the potential utility of combining genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and post-mortem data.


Commentary by Emra Bora and Christos Pantelis

Hallahan B, Newell J, Soares JC, et al (2011). Structural magnetic resonance imaging in bipolar disorder: an international collaborative mega-analysis of individual adult patient data. Biol Psychiatry 69(4): 326-335 

Benedetti F, Yeh PH, Bellani M, et al (2011). Disruption of white matter integrity in bipolar depression as a possible structural marker of illness. Biol Psychiatry 69(4): 309-317 

Two papers examine different aspects of structural imaging in bipolar disorder. In the first, Hallahan and colleagues report on the findings of a mega-analysis combining structural imaging results from a large number of bipolar and healthy subjects. They find areas of difference, as well as noting effects of lithium and illness duration on brain morphometry. In the second, Benedetti and colleagues utilized diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tract-based spatial statistics to compare  fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean and redial diffusivity between depressed bipolar and healthy subjects on a voxel-wise basis. They report evidence of white matter pathology in the bipolar patients. Together the studies highlight the growing evidence of neuroanatomic abnormalities in bipolar disorder but also show that many of the findings do not mirror those seen in schizophrenia.


March 1, 2011

Commentary by David L. Braff

Popov T, Jordanov T, Rockstroh B, et al (2011). Specific cognitive training normalizes auditory sensory gating in schizophrenia: a randomized trial. Biol Psychiatry 69(5): 465-471

Roussos P, Giakoumaki SG, Adamaki E, et al (2011). The influence of schizophrenia-related neuregulin-1 polymorphisms on sensorimotor gating in healthy males. Biol Psychiatry 69(5): 479-486 

Roussos and colleagues present data showing a correlation between neuregulin-1 (NRG1) SNPs and reduced pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) in a large group of healthy men. NRG1 has previously been hypothesized to be involved in the symptomatology of schizophrenia. In a separate study, Popov and colleagues report that both performance in specific cognitive areas, and deficits in PPI improved in schizophrenic patients who participated in an auditory-focused cognitive exercise program.

Commentary by David A. Lewis

Buchanan RW, Keefe RS, Lieberman JA, et al (2011). A randomized clinical trial of MK-0777 for the treatment of cognitive impairments in people with schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 69(5): 442-449 

The authors test the effects of MK-0777, a (GABA)a partial agonist on cognition in a  group of schizophrenic patients. MK-0777 was previously found in a pilot study to improve selected measures of prefrontal cortical function. The intervention was not found to be effective in this larger, follow-up study, failing to improve cognitive performance in the treated group. Potential explanations for the lack of findings and future directions are discussed.


Members of SOBP receive Biological Psychiatry as part of their membership
Click here to learn more about this prestigious journal.


Top 6 Reasons to Publish in Biological Psychiatry  
1.  High Impact Factor - 8.926
2.  4th of 117 Psychiatry Journals
3.  13th of 230 Neuroscience Journals
4.  1st Decision - 30 Days
5.  ePubs - 6 Weeks
6.  In Print - 4 Months
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Society of Biological Psychiatry Newsletter Editorial Staff 

Stephen M. Strakowski, MD, Editor

Editorial Board
Helen Mayberg, MD
William B. Lawson, MD, PhD
Alan H. Young, MD, PhD
Caleb M. Adler, MD
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