CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: Aug. 5, 2002
UI psychiatrist selected as Mallinckrodt Scholar
A University of Iowa Health Care physician has been selected as the 41st
Mallinckrodt Scholar by the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation in St. Louis.
Sergio Paradiso, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor of psychiatry, is the
first UI faculty member ever to receive the honor, which includes a three-year
$210,000 award that will be effective Oct. 1. Paradiso will use the funds
to investigate changes in emotional processing in the elderly as a predictor
of elderly depression.
The Mallinckrodt Scholar program was started about 18 years ago, according
to Oliver Langenberg, the foundation's president. The program's objective
is to help junior investigators develop their research careers. Select medical
schools are invited to submit the credentials of one candidate to apply for
the scholarship. Paradiso was chosen as the UI's candidate based on departmental
nominations in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
"We want to help the best young researchers get their laboratories
going so they can get to the next phase of research," Langenberg said.
"This year we had a very fine group of potential scholars, and we were
quite impressed with Dr. Paradiso."
Paradiso said the novelty of his study is that most investigations have
not taken a functional approach to understanding emotional processing as a
predictor for late-life mood disorders.
"Previous studies have looked at the changes in the aging brain using
static images like MRI or have focused on functional changes during cognitive
challenges," he said. "However, we are going to look at the function
of the brain while it is processing emotions. Participants will be asked to
determine whether a set of visual stimuli are pleasant or unpleasant to them.
We will measure their emotional reaction and identify the brain circuitry
that is engaged by this mental activity."
Paradiso said that preliminary data show that some older people have changes
in the way they process emotions and, as a group, do not negatively perceive
unpleasant images that are uniformly perceived negatively by younger people,
"As people age, their ability to process emotion may change in different
directions," Paradiso said. "The ability to appreciate pleasant
images as pleasant may be reduced as well as the ability to
see unpleasant images as unpleasant. These changes may be linked to specific
areas in the brain and may be responsible for whether a person develops a
depressive disorder in late life."
The study will attempt to answer whether these changes are either adaptive
phenomena that have a protective function or are predisposing factors for
depression for the elderly.
Paradiso was nominated for the Mallinckrodt Scholar Program by Robert G.
Robinson, M.D., the Paul W. Penningroth Professor and Head of Psychiatry,
who has worked with Paradiso since 1994.
"Dr. Paradiso's work in brain imaging and psychiatry disorders associated
with brain injury or epilepsy has led to his intended career focus in geriatric
neuropsychiatry," Robinson said. "He will be a valued member of
the psychiatric research community in the future and will contribute significantly
to our understanding of neuropsychiatry."
Paradiso, who completed a residency and fellowship in psychiatry at the
UI, was appointed to the UI faculty last fall. His previous research has included
studies of emotional processing in normal volunteers, in people with schizophrenia
and in individuals with stroke that has affected specific brain areas.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and
Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and
services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.