Professor of Psychiatry Neurology and Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Director of the Neuropsychiatry Section and the Schizophrenia Research Center, and Vice Chair of Research Development in the Department of Psychiatry.Dr. Gur's combined training in Psychology, Neurology and Psychiatry has provided the tools to pursue an academic career working with basic and clinical neuroscientists to advance the understanding of schizophrenia. In directing these research endeavors, she has interacted with scientists of diverse backgrounds, conducted collaborative interdisciplinary research, mentored junior faculty and trainees, and has come to know many patients and their families. She is a member and has served in organizations including the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the NIMH Council and the American Psychiatric Association task forces including the DSM-5 Psychosis work group. She is Past President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry and President Elect of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. NIMH has supported her research efforts and she has over 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Neurodevelopmental genomic strategies in the study of the psychosis spectrum
Consistent with the goals of precision medicine to re-define illness mechanistically through elucidating the pathophysiology from gene action to symptoms, large scale genomic studies have been linking genomic variation to continuous quantitative phenotypes. Such an approach can lead to early detection and pathological processes enabling early intervention. This paradigm shift is now applied in psychiatry with an increased focus in schizophrenia research on early identification of psychosis as the process emerges. Convergent approaches integrate phenotypic features with neurocognitive and neuroimaging measures in large -scale studies. Most studies have examined help seeking youths.
We have applied two complementary strategies to probe the underlying neurobiology of psychosis risk. The first is the study of a community-based sample of youths with no known neurogenetic syndrome; the second is the study of youths with a known genetic syndrome that confers significant increased risk for psychosis. Both samples underwent "deep phenotyping" and were compared to healthy participants.
The Philadelphia Neurodevelopment Cohort is a large (about 9, 500) prospective sample of genotyped youths where converging measures of brain and behavior have been obtained. Individuals with psychosis spectrum symptoms showed aberrant brain function across neurocognitive and neuroimaging measures.
The 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS) is associated with ~25% risk of psychosis emerging in adolescence and early adulthood. In this sample we compare individuals with psychotic feature to those without to establish unique characteristic that modulate psychosis risk.
Both sample are followed longitudinally to establish intake predictors of clinical high-risk status and, ultimately transition to psychosis. As importantly factor indicative of resilience will be uncovered using these strategies.