Learning about Brain Health

More than 350 children and adults participated in the Third Annual Brain Awareness Fair hosted by the Sinai Neuroscience Outreach Program, in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Youth Education and The Friedman Brain Institute, on Thursday, March 19, during Brain Awareness Week. Forty Mount Sinai volunteers, including faculty, staff, postdocs, and students, shared their expertise for brain health and research. During multiple hands-on activities and exhibits, participants built neuron models out of pipe cleaners, looked at the human brain in 3-D, and examined all types of animal brains. Faculty from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai also fielded questions from adults about addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and mental health.

Study Reveals Mechanisms that Activate Depression

New research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai sheds light for the first time on how depression and emotional resilience operate on a molecular level. The findings, published in the December 4, 2014, issue of Nature, bring fresh perspective to an area that has eluded researchers for decades by outlining the mechanisms within cells that activate depression and laying the groundwork for new treatments. Current drugs for depression focus on neurotransmitters, or communication between cells, but identification of this novel biochemical pathway could pave the way for more effective drugs with very different mechanisms. Read more

Understanding the Roots of Autism

Specific cellular pathways, along which genetic mutations occur, appear to play a key role in the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), according to new research from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The findings, published online in the April 24, 2014, issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, provide scientists with a better understanding of the complex genetic architecture involved in ASD, which has its roots in early brain development.

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Genetic Research Leading to Advances in Autism Care

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) describes a group of neurodevelopmental disorders with a wide range of severity and symptoms affecting 1 out of 68 children in the United States. While there is currently no medicine for this complex condition, discovering genetic causes of ASD will help accurate diagnosis and prediction of additional likely symptoms, thereby improving medical treatment. Genetic findings can also provide families with critical information about the clinical course of the disease and provide opportunities for family counseling. New genetic findings allow scientists to conduct more specific research into the mechanisms that cause ASD as well as the many subtypes and symptoms of the condition. Finally, genetic findings also allow for detailed study of the way these genes function, which can help scientists design new treatments and develop more tailored medical support in the form of personalized medicine.

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