Researchers from the University of Georgia are part of an international investigation led by the Yale Department of Psychiatry to better understand the cause and effect of schizophrenia in some high-risk adolescents and young adults.
The research, funded by a $52 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, will fund the development of the Psychosis Risk Outcomes Network, or ProNET. The consortium will be based at 27 institutions, where investigators will characterize phenotypes associated with the clinical high risk or prodrome state of schizophrenia in adolescents and young adults.
The study is the largest multisite collaborative psychosis risk study conducted in the world to date.
Gregory Strauss, assistant professor of psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is a site PI on the grant, which is being used to establish the ProNet consortium. ProNet was developed to allow the field to rapidly test hypotheses about biomarkers leading to the development of psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) and to build the infrastructure for multinational clinical trials using a personalized medicine approach.
Across all 27 sites, the investigators will recruit 1,040 patients at clinical high-risk for psychosis and follow them for two years. Strauss and his UGA team of collaborators will collect a series of measures on the participants, including clinical interviews, neuropsychological tests, MRI measures of brain structure and function, EEG, blood and salivary fluid biomarkers, genetics, natural language, and mobile phone digital phenotyping.
“Psychotic disorders are one of the leading medical causes of functional disability worldwide,” Strauss said. “Given that most individuals do not recover after the onset of a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia, the field has been shifting toward a model of early identification and prevention in those at clinical high risk for developing psychosis.”