Christina Michalski, PhD
Developing Brain Cell Models to Better Understand Schizophrenia
In the United States, about 1 out of 100 people has schizophrenia, a severe psychiatric disorder that impacts mood and thought processes. The molecular cause of schizophrenia is unknown, making it difficult to develop treatments. Patients with a rare genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22qDS) have a ~25-fold higher risk than the general public to develop schizophrenia.
In this project, we will use blood samples from patients with 22qDS to make innovative models of brain cells in the lab. We will particularly focus on microglia (a type of immune cell in the brain) and compare the molecular makeup of microglia from 22qDS patients and healthy people. These experiments will help to understand disease mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and identify potential therapeutic targets. We hope this project will ultimately lead to better treatment options for 22qDS patients and individuals with schizophrenia.
The PhRMA Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Medicine will allow me to pursue cutting-edge research into molecular mechanisms underlying psychosis symptoms, with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets for schizophrenia.