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October 26, 2000

Neuroscience research center opens at WPIC

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) has opened a new center that will enable scientists to expand their study of a number of severe mental illnesses.

By opening the Clinical Neuroscience Research Center (CNRC), Pitt's Department of Psychiatry becomes the first in the nation to develop a specialized facility with the goal of revolutionizing mental health research and patient care.

"The CNRC provides patients with severe mental disorders an environment that is safe and appropriately staffed to meet their needs," said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor, Schools of the Health Sciences, and medical school dean. "The University of Pittsburgh is truly fortunate to have this opportunity to lead the way by being the first to open such a center." The new center is a satellite of the UPMC's General Clinical Research Center (GCRC), one of 75 in the nation supported by the National Institutes of Health to provide the infrastructure that allows medical investigators to conduct state-of-the-art patient-oriented research.

The center will support studies that include patients with severe mental disorders, protocols that require intensive monitoring and supervision on an inpatient basis and research that involves time isolation to study the biological clock.

Such studies are expected to shed light on the effectiveness of medications to ease the agitation of dementia, a symptom of Alzheimer's disease; how the drug olanzapine affects delta sleep deficits in patients with schizophrenia, and how the human body clock changes and affects sleep as people age.

"We will be able to use the CNRC's resources to do important research that may lead to solutions for some of the most vexing mental illnesses," said Daniel J. Buysse, associate professor of psychiatry and program director of the CNRC. "Studies of many mental illnesses would be difficult, if not impossible, to complete without resources such as the GCRC and CNRC."

Currently, there are a dozen research studies taking place at the CNRC that will account for about 700 research days this year. The number is expected to grow to more than 1,500 research days the following year.

The CNRC is located on the 13th floor of WPIC. It includes five bedrooms, a nursing station, treatment room, equipment control room and patient lounge. There also are two time-isolation units.

"WPIC and the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Psychiatry lead the nation in research funding from the National Institutes of Health," said David J. Kupfer, Thomas Detre Professor and chairperson of psychiatry. "The addition of the CNRC not only will keep us on top, but will serve as a resource to attract both talent and additional research dollars to the University and to the city."

Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 5

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