A gift of $600,000 from the Patrick P. Lee Foundation is funding a University at Buffalo scientist's promising research on the cause of schizophrenia. It is the foundation's largest-ever grant to UB.
The devastating disease affects some 2 million Americans.
Schizophrenia most often strikes men and women from adolescence through adulthood, but its origin may lie in genetic missteps years earlier, when those it afflicts are still in the womb.
This is one implication of new findings from the laboratory of Michal Stachowiak, Ph.D., in UB's department of pathology and anatomical sciences in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The Lee Foundation grant will fund four-year fellowships for three Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. trainees to study and conduct research investigating the new approach to schizophrenia under the direction of Stachowiak and his team.
"Dr. Stachowiak and his team are focusing on revealing the causes and neurodevelopmental mechanisms of schizophrenia. They are hoping to discover new possibilities for developing schizophrenia treatments, even a way to affect the development of this disease," said Patrick P. Lee, chairman of The Patrick P. Lee Foundation.
In addition to producing the young researchers who will join the race to understand schizophrenia, the fellowships help support Stachowiak's research efforts.
Stachowiak said their findings of novel gene regulatory mechanisms suggest it might someday be possible to arrest the progression of the disease before it fully develops.
"We believe that the transgenic mouse developed in our laboratory offers a unique model that explains schizophrenia from genes to brain structure and finally to development," he said.
The Patrick P. Lee Foundation, based in Amherst, was formed by Lee in 2005. He built International Motion Control, a worldwide conglomerate with manufacturing facilities. It was acquired by ITT in 2007.
Reacting to the grant, UB's Stachowiak said, "We have dedicated our careers to better understanding schizophrenia and we are very close to reaching a great milestone in how to treat this disease. Never before have we been this excited about funding."