Lawrence S. Kegeles, MD PhD, Interim Chief
The area of research of the Division of Translational Imaging (DTI) at NYSPI is the development of novel tools and techniques to study neurotransmission in the living human brain, and the application of these techniques to clinical studies to unravel chemical and functional disturbances associated with severe mental illnesses and drug addiction. Molecular and functional imaging techniques based on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are the main methods developed and used in the Division. The imaging approach has a translational emphasis, using imaging to identify phenotypes that can be tested in animal models or vice versa using models derived from preclinical knowledge to be tested in clinical populations.
Development of new imaging techniques includes implementation of new MRI pulse sequences and development of new imaging paradigms based on pharmacological challenges, cognitive tasks or electromagnetic challenges to measure functional changes and responsivity of neurotransmitter systems.
Clinical investigations within the Division focus on schizophrenia and its prodrome, cannabis dependence and comorbidity with schizophrenia, MDMA dependence, design of paradigms to assess dopamine release in response to alcohol challenge and reward related tasks, identification of biomarkers for disease prevention or drug discovery and aid in drug development. Additionally, the Division performs imaging studies in collaboration with other investigators who specialize in the study of various disorders: anxiety disorders (Dr. Simpson), mood disorders (Dr. Schneier), and alcoholism (Dr. Krystal from Yale).
The Division also trains fellows in the acquisition of the expertise and skills required for clinical investigation using PET and MRI, with focus on basic receptology, neurochemistry, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics, teaching of imaging methodology, functional neuroanatomy, kinetic analysis on a region or voxel based approach, as well as general principles of clinical investigation (CGMP, statistics, drafting of IRB protocols).
The faculty in the division are Guillermo Horga MD PhD, Ragy Girgis MD, Chara Malapani MD PhD, and the Interim Division Chief Lawrence Kegeles MD PhD. Dr. Horga is known for his work on neural mechanisms of sensory prediction in schizophrenia with hallucinations. Dr. Girgis directs the COPE program for participants at clinically high risk for schizophrenia, and Dr. Malapani is an expert in cognitive control processes and temporal processing dysfunction in schizophrenia. Dr. Kegeles has expertise in multimodal imaging including MRS, MRI and PET and is known for his contributions to understanding disturbances in the neurochemistry of the brain in schizophrenia, particularly dopaminergic alterations and their relation to glutamate and GABA dysfunction.