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University of Iowa News Release


July 5, 2007

UI Scientists Receive Young Investigator Awards

Three University of Iowa scientists have been selected to receive 2007 Young Investigator Awards from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD): the Mental Health Research Association.

Tony W. Buchanan, Ph.D., Chadi A. Calarge, M.D., and John Wemmie, M.D., Ph.D., each will receive $60,000 from NARSAD to advance specific research projects.

Buchanan, an assistant research scientist in the UI Department of Neurology, plans to study the effects of stress on memory in depression. He will assess the effects of stress-induced cortisol on memory consolidation and memory retrieval in patients with major depressive disorder. A better understanding of how stress and cortisol may play a role in the development and maintenance of symptoms could prove fruitful in the development of new treatments. Buchanan will begin a faculty appointment in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University in August.

Calarge, an assistant professor in the UI Department of Psychiatry, will conduct a two-year follow-up study investigating the metabolic and hormonal abnormalities in children treated with risperidone. This drug, commonly used in children and adolescents, has been implicated in weight gain, elevated blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Wemmie, an assistant professor in the UI Department of Psychiatry, will study the acid-sensing ion channel, known as ASIC1a, found in abundance in a brain structure called the amygdala, which is implicated in fear and anxiety. Using a rodent-based model, Wemmie will test whether an ASIC1a inhibitor blocks fear-related learning and/or the manifestations of learned fear in mice. The knowledge gained could be used to test the impact of mutations in the human ASIC1a gene upon fear and anxiety.

NARSAD created the Young Investigator Award to help promising early-career scientists conduct research studies that will generate pilot data necessary for larger grants.

Founded in 1987, NARSAD raises funds to advance research on the causes, treatment and prevention of psychiatric disorders. It is the largest donor-supported organization in the world devoted to funding scientific research on neuropsychiatric brain and behavior disorders. For additional information, visit the organization's Web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,