University of Northern Colorado Associate Professor Mark Thomas recently received a $349,406 grant from a division of the National Institutes of Health to continue his research on schizophrenia to inform more effective treatments for the debilitating mental disorder that affects about 3 million Americans.
The National Institute of Mental Health award is his second national grant this year to identify how dopamine is regulated in the brain. Disruptions in dopamine have been linked to schizophrenia.
"It is known that optimal dopamine function is critical for normal working memory," Thomas writes in a grant summary. "But the mechanisms by which dopamine exerts its actions are poorly understood."
The grant will provide funding for Thomas to test how neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain respond to rhythmic stimulation throughout a range of frequencies and how these responses are modified by dopamine.
Thomas says an understanding of how dopamine regulates activity for working memory would be an important step toward understanding schizophrenia and facilitating the development of more effective antipsychotic medications.
Thomas received in January a $60,000 grant from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and has previously earned grant funding for his research from NIH. His articles on dopamine, brain function and Parkinson's disease have been published widely. At UNC, he teaches human anatomy, physiology and neurobiology.