Helen L. Dorris Child and Adolescent Neuro-Psychiatric Disorder Institute
sequencing of the human genome promises to propel humans into the age of molecular medicine, where
complex diseases are diagnosed and treated in a patient- and target-specific manner. For the nervous
system, in particular, the postgenome era holds the potential to deliver groundbreaking new medicines
for previously intractable psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
However, in order to realize this goal,
a new breed of research institute is needed that cultivates cross talk among many experimental
disciplines. Indeed, unraveling the complexities of the human brain and behavior can only be achieved
by bringing together scientists from diverse backgrounds and expertise, including chemistry,
physics, genetics, and behavior.
The Helen L. Dorris Child and Adolescent
Neuro-Psychiatric Disorder Institute was established with a generous gift from mental health
advocate and San Diego State University professor emeritus Helen L. Dorris. Her interest in mental
health advocacy led her to provide the funding to establish this institute, which has a strong emphasis
on interdisciplinary approaches to studies of neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
Specifically, the aim of scientists at
the institute is to uncover the pathologic basis of mental disorders and to develop therapies for
the disorders. In the past 3 years, several talented investigators have been recruited to join
the institute. Together, these investigators are addressing many of the most challenging problems
facing contemporary molecular and behavioral neuroscience. Their research promises to uncover
fundamental mechanisms for brain function and to reveal novel strategies and targets for the treatment
of nervous system disorders.