Research Director, North Carolina Psychiatric Research Center
Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health – Raleigh
Education and Training:
B.A., Johns Hopkins University
M.D., Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Residency, Psychiatry, University of North Carolina Hospitals
Fellowship, Psychiatry Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Fred Jarskog’s research is focused on the pathophysiology and treatment of schizophrenia. Dr. Jarskog has studied the potential efficacy of drugs with novel mechanisms of action, with a particular focus on neuroprotective mechanisms, to enhance standard antipsychotic therapies. Cognitive deficits are substantial in individuals with schizophrenia, and antipsychotic medications provide little benefit for this impairment. As a member of the TENETS (Treatment and Evaluation Network for Experimental Targets in Schizophrenia) academic consortium, Dr. Jarskog and colleagues have targeted cognitive deficits by testing pharmacological agents with GABAergic, glutamateric, nicotinic and neurotrophic mechanisms in Phase II clinical trials. For example, a recently completed study shows promise for the cognitive benefits of davunetide, a microtubule stabilizing compound with potent neuroprotective properties. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), 12 weeks of davunetide was also found to increase N-acetylaspartate levels—a marker of neuronal viability—in prefrontal cortex in people with schizophrenia. Functional MRI results from a similar study with an alpha7 nicotinic agonist will soon be available. Dr. Jarskog also studies interventions for obesity and associated metabolic problems that commonly occur in people taking antipsychotic medications. A 16-week trial with metformin, a common treatment for type II diabetes, demonstrated significant weight loss and improved lipid and glucose control compared to placebo in overweight people with schizophrenia. Finally, Dr. Jarskog is conducting a study to understand neuronal circuitry underlying anhedonia and related negative symptoms in schizophrenia. These results can help identify novel treatment approaches for a symptom dimension for which no current antipsychotic is effective.