Researchers zoom in on schizophrenia biomarkers

Brain matter: Feinstein Institute researchers will take a closer look at biomarkers in the brains of schizophrenia patients.

A Feinstein Institute for Medical Research scientist will focus next-level imaging techniques on schizophrenia and other brain disorders, thanks to a hefty federal grant.

Research scientist Anil Malhotra – a professor in the Feinstein Institute’s Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience and the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Medicine – has been awarded a five-year, $3 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to identify biomarkers specific to schizophrenia and treatment-resistant psychosis.

Anil Malhotra: Mindful.

The biomarkers will help researchers develop new and more effective treatments for the brain disorders, according to the Feinstein Institute, the R&D arm of the Northwell Health system.

In the five-year study, Malhotra and his team will use breakthrough neuroimaging technologies to identify brain patterns and biomarkers in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia to determine if current pharmaceutical treatment options would be effective, before the pharmaceuticals are administered.

The study, “Connectivity Biomarkers of Clinical Response in Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia,” will also track the effectiveness of treatments already being administered, while helping researchers develop “more targeted and effective treatments for psychosis,” according to the Feinstein Institute.

Noting 3.5 million schizophrenia patients in the United States alone, Malhotra – who also directs psychiatry research at Zucker Hillside Hospital, Northwell Health’s nationally recognized behavioral health center in Glen Oaks – said he was grateful for the NIH’s support.

“With modern-day neuroimaging technology, we have the potential to see how the brain is affected by certain medications and how we can better treat conditions of the brain,” Malhotra said in a statement.

The Research Project Grant (R01), which supports health-related research and development, is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism still in use by the NIH.