Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Translational Neuroscience Program

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Siegel Lab Projects

Current Research Programs


Animal Models of Brain Abnormalities in Schizophrenia

The Translational Neuroscience Program is also dedicated to understanding the neural basis for brain abnormalities in schizophrenia in an effort to improve future treatments. One approach to achieve this goal is through the use of animal models. People with schizophrenia are thought to have abnormal brain responses following auditory stimuli (sound). Although it is not known how this abnormal brain activity is related to symptoms, it provides a method to study neuronal abnormalities in people with the illness. Although the complex symptoms of schizophrenia cannot be modeled in animals, abnormal neural activity following auditory stimuli can be recreated in mice in order to study the underlying biology of this phenomenon. These patterns of neural activity in response to noise are called sensory processing. In order to examine the neural basis of abnormal sensory processing in schizophrenia, we are studying the genetics and cellular biology of sensory processing in mice that share schizophrenia-like patterns of neural activity following auditory stimuli.



Development of long-term delivery systems to increase medication adherence

The Translational Neuroscience Program is a national leader in creating and advocating for the use of long-term delivery systems to help people with schizophrenia remain on medication. Noncompliance with medication is the major reason for poor clinical outcome in schizophrenia today and up to 80% of people with schizophrenia are not able to take their medication as prescribed. There are many reasons for poor compliance, including difficulties with access to medication, side effects and poor insight into the illness and the consequences of not taking medicine. Most people can achieve periods of remission on medicine. However, difficulties arise when periods off medicine lead to relapse, poor judgment and further decline. During these periods of relapse, patients' decisions are clouded by psychosis and often do not reflect their own best interests. Long-term delivery systems are designed to increase patient autonomy by allowing people to make their own treatment choices while they are well, rather than during periods of relapse.

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Questions regarding clinical studies or patient oriented research regarding Schizophrenia in the Division of Neuropsychiatry at Penn can be addressed by calling 1-888-635-7780 and speaking with one of the clinical coordinators at the Schizophrenia Research Center.