News Pictures

ACNP Travel Awards

American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Selects 
Drs. Fabio Ferrarelli and Matthew MacDonald for Travel Awards

Congratulations to Matthew MacDonald, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Fabio Ferrarelli, MD, PhD, a PGY4 resident in the Psychiatry Research Pathway track, on their receipt of Travel Awards from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).  The researchers were selected for the awards from a pool of 338 submissions received by the organization.  The awards will support their participation at the Annual Meeting of the ACNP in Hollywood, Florida on December 6-10, 2015.  

The goal of Dr. MacDonald’s research is to contribute to our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of cortical impairment in schizophrenia using state-of-the-art techniques to map dysfunctions in synaptic protein networks to cortical circuits in schizophrenia. With support from a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, he is currently investigating glutamate signaling abnormalities correlated with auditory-cortex dendritic spine loss in schizophrenia.  Dr. MacDonald is also the recipient of a K01 career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health to study ATP1A3 induced alterations to glutamate signaling protein networks in schizophrenia. Findings from the studies supported by his K award will support ongoing drug discovery efforts.  Dr. MacDonald has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on his work in leading scientific journals including the Archives of General Psychiatry and Biological Psychiatry, and presented his findings at conferences and scientific meetings across the United States including the Society for Biological Psychiatry, the International Conference on Schizophrenia Research, and prior annual meetings of the ACNP.  

Dr. Ferrarelli’s primary research interests focus on the utilization of high density (hd)-EEG, MRI and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to better understand the neurobiology of schizophrenia and to identify potential treatment targets.   Through a series of studies employing sleep hd-EEG recordings in psychiatric patients, he has demonstrated a reduction in sleep spindles,  NREM sleep-specific 12-16 Hz brain oscillations, in patients with schizophrenia relative to healthy and psychiatric comparison subjects. He also found reduced TMS-evoked EEG gamma oscillations during wakefulness in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia patients compared to healthy subjects. In the future, Dr. Ferrarelli plans to extend those lines of research to children and adolescents at high risk.  Investigating those neuronal circuits and mechanisms as they develop may provide a unique insight in the time course of changes during childhood and adolescence, and could help detect neural circuit dysfunction early on as well as provide clues to novel, preemptive therapeutic interventions. Dr. Ferrarelli has presented his findings at prior annual meetings of the ACNP and multiple other conferences and scientific meetings in the United States and Europe, and has published in leading scientific journals including Science, Nature Neuroscience, and the American Journal of Psychiatry.