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Funded Programs

NYU School of MedicineNYU Biomarkers Studies

NYU Chronic PTSD & TBI Biomarkers Study

Principal Investigator: Charles Marmar

Grant: $17M

The NYU Chronic PTS & TBI Biomarkers Study is exploring biomarkers of disease in veterans affected by PTS or TBI. In addition to assessing a number of blood-based biomarkers as indicators of diagnosis or disease progression, Dr. Marmar’s group is exploring the utility of voice analytics software and non-invasive brain imaging for diagnosing PTSD. In addition, retinal imaging and eye tracking paradigms are being studied as diagnostic tools for TBI. These endeavors will help identify improved treatments and diagnostics for individuals who suffer chronically from these conditions.

Within this biomarkers study, the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research Program is working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. The program is currently studying factors that increase risk and promote coping in PTSD, including structural and functional imaging, genetics, endocrine, metabolic, and proteomic biomarkers, and adverse health outcomes in PTSD. The main goals of the PTSD Research Program are:

  • Improving the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD
  • Improving our understanding of the unique stressors faced members of the armed forces
  • Identifying both positive and negative ways that PTSD sufferers deal with stress
  • Developing effective tools and treatments to assist sufferers in the management of stress in order to maximize emotional and physical health
  • Developing novel interventions to prevent PTSD

 

NYU Tau Diagnostic

Principal Investigator: Mony de Leon

Grant: $3M

Dr. Mony de Leon’s research team at the NYU School of Medicine has embarked on a series of studies utilizing cutting edge technology to measure serum tau levels that were previously undetectable using standard assays.

Tau’s critical role in neuron structural stabilization and involvement in neurodegenerative processes make it a popular marker for neurodegenerative processes, and it has been extensively studied in both neural tissue and CSF. However, neither of these is easily accessible in patients. To address this, the de Leon group is developing a blood-based assay to better measure tau and thereby enable physicians to monitor neurodegenerative processes. These efforts will help optimize the diagnosis of chronic and acute TBI as well as improve monitoring of TBI resolution. The program will additionally examine the potential of imaging tau in the brain and tractability of measuring tau levels in saliva.

Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University – Genetic Animal Models Study

Principal Investigator: Eric Kandel

Grant: $1.9M

This research grant will evaluate specific genes that regulate stress vulnerability in rodents based on pathways known to be activated when an organism encounters a life-threatening event. This program will additionally examine the 3D aggregation of specific proteins implicated in the stress response pathway using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques (NMR).   Finally, the link between susceptibility for PTSD and substance abuse will be examined in rodent models developed within the Kandel laboratory.

Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research

Stanley Center for Psychiatric Genetics at the Broad Institute – Human Genetics Study

Principal Investigator: Karestan Koenen & PGC-PTS Consortium

Grant: $1.7M + $500K to other program partners

Cohen Veterans Bioscience has established a Collaborative Funding Agreement with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Genetics at the Broad Institute to support genotyping of large cohort PTSD populations.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most commonly occurring and seriously impairing disorder that occurs after exposure to traumatic events such as combat, sexual assault, and natural disaster.  PTSD risk can be significantly reduced by early preventive interventions, however not all individuals exposed to a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

Genetic factors are critical in influencing who develops PTSD.

Heritability estimates for the disorder are as high as 70% following trauma. However, robust genetic variants for PTSD have yet to be identified and the genetic architecture of PTSD remains largely unknown.

This collaborative funding agreement will provide funding for genotyping DNA samples and access to the extensive genetics expertise and platforms available at the Broad Institute by the PTSD research community.  Cohen Veterans Bioscience will provide funding and resources for genotyping, a data repository, analytics and program management.

The Psychiatric Genetics Consortium (PGC) is a collective of scientists working together to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of neuropsychiatric diseases. Initiated in 2007, the PGC has undertaken genome wide association studies (GWAS) for a number of diseases, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD.

GWAS studies of complex, polygenic diseases, such as PTSD, require large cohorts of patients, which can only be accomplish through collaboration and data-sharing amongst many research groups. To this end, the PGC cultivates a platform where researchers are invited to share their data and, in turn, receive access to data from consortia participants within their particular disease of study.

The scope of this collaboration is unprecedented in the field of traumatic stress, and will lead the search for replicable genetic associations and new insights into the genetic and molecular underpinnings of PTSD, leading to novel drug targets and biomarkers for PTSD.