UNC Psychiatry researchers are among the nation’s leaders in exploring the mechanisms that will ultimately explain human behavior and mental illness. During this most exciting time in the history of psychiatric research, even while facing severely declining National Institutes of Health research dollars, UNC Psychiatry led all other psychiatry departments in 2007 in percent increase in NIH grant monies awarded.
Researchers at UNC Psychiatry employ an array of technologies to explore the biology of the brain and human behavior. Besides investigating the etiologies of disorders, the research is also aimed at finding therapeutic targets for drug development and to develop and evaluating the effectiveness of new and existing treatments. The research program utilizes a broad array of research disciplines including molecular neurobiology and pharmacology, behavioral and systems pharmacology, neurogenetics, epidemiologic genetics, structural spectroscopic and functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology, neuropsychology, descriptive phenomenology, clinical neurobiology, experimental therapeutics and interventions and services research.
UNC Psychiatry also stands at the forefront of translational research, which is the research that links basic and preclinical research to patient-oriented clinical research and ultimately its translation to clinical practice. This research has achieved ever greater emphasis under the stewardship of the most recent NIH directors, who have redirected grant money from more isolated research to grants that look to translate the breathtaking findings of basic science research into clinical practice.
The major areas of research emphasis include schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism, fragile X syndrome, and Turner Syndrome), bipolar and depressive mood disorders, behavioral medicine, eating disorders, and women’s mood disorders. The research is carried out by a multidisciplinary faculty and is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, foundations, the pharmaceutical industry and private philanthropy. The research priorities of the Department are determined by areas of scientific opportunity, public health importance, and individual faculty and institutional interests and needs.