Clinical Trials at the cmbn

In addition to the research highlighted in these clinical trials, faculty from the School of Medicine are contributing to the Center's work with discoveries in neuroscience, pharmacology, neurobiology, neurotoxicology, and physiology. Read more about their work here.

Treatment Prediction in Adolescent and Adult Depression

Adolescent depression is a major public health problem. Not only is it associated with serious morbidity and mortality, it marks the gateway into recurrent mood disorders in a large proportion of adults. Early and effective treatment is vitally important.

At the same time, the long-term effects of anti-depressants on the developing brain are not fully known, and decisions made early in the course of treatment can influence the patient's subsequent treatment, perhaps over the course of a lifetime. Unfortunately, drug therapy is a matter of trial and error, costing time and money before an individual's reaction is known.  It is therefore critical to know who would—or would not—benefit from antidepressant drugs.

What is known about youth depression is the difference young patients exhibit in sleep patterns and endocrine system activity. The Center is seeking to understand the mechanism of these  underlying differences and to develop strategic treatment, both for adolescents and adults. Currently, the Center is studying bupropion; novel and more effective drugs could be uncovered both for youth and adults through the knowledge gained.

Coping with Interpersonal Violence in African-American Women

Women are twice as likely as men to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their lifetimes. African-American women are at especially high risk for interpersonal violence, directly affecting their academic, behavioral, physical health, and mental health outcomes. However, the psychobiological factors associated with PTSD risk in women are still not well understood. The Center is examining the relation of PTSD symptoms, coping factors, and peripheral measures of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathetic nervous system following exposure to interpersonal violence. The findings will clarify coping factors that are associated with risk for, or resilience against, PTSD and will be helpful in developing more "personalized" preventive interventions for this highly disabling condition.

Ethnicity, Gender, and Pediatric Pain

Approximately one in four adults in the United States suffers from chronic pain, and chronic pain carries a significant socioeconomic burden. A growing body of evidence suggests ethnic/racial and gender/sex disparities in the perception, expression, and response to pain among adults. Also, recent studies indicate that chronic/recurrent pain is more common in childhood than previously thought, but there is very limited information about the developmental course of such pain or when ethnic and gender differences in pain emerge. Data from the Center's laboratory and other sources indicate that childhood pain frequently persists into adult life, at substantial cost to the individual, family, and society.

The Center is currently evaluating the biological, psychological, and social-contextual mechanisms of pain experiences in African-American and Non-Hispanic White youth ages 10-15 years old. Additionally, gender effects on pain perception, expression, and responses to pain are being examined. The study represents a first step in laying the groundwork for understanding the biopsychosocial mechanisms of ethnic and gender disparities in pain experiences of adolescents. Ultimately, by detecting modifiable mechanisms in multiple domains that characterize high-risk individuals early in the course of chronic pain conditions, more "personalized" (ethnic- and gender-sensitive) interventions can be designed to yield the greatest potential health benefits and cost savings to children, families, and society.

Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior:
Treatment Effects on Neural Responses to Rewards

The Center is pairing new insights on risk-taking behavior with a prevention program it developed for African-American adolescents, a population subject to higher rates of morbidity/mortality from such behaviors. Clinical trials have shown the culturally sensitive program to reduce several risk-taking behaviors by up to five years.

The Center is now further validating the program through the use of functional MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), taken before and after participation in the program. The goal is to observe brain changes associated with risk-taking/risk-avoidance. Based on some adult studies that reported observable brain changes in response to psychosocial interventions, our hypothesis is that participants will show a positive response to the program in the reward-processing/decision-making circuitry of the brain. If so, the Center will be able to refine its prevention program and contribute to the greater body of knowledge for at-risk youth.