McLEAN IN THE NEWS

Benes elected as member of Institute of Medicine

March 24th, 2005

Francine M. Benes, MD, PhD, director of the Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience in the Mailman Research Center, has been elected a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. Members of the four institutes that comprise the National Academies serve as advisors to national policy-makers on science, engineering and medicine.

Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health. Benes, through her examinations of postmortem human brain issue and animal models, was the first to find evidence of a miswiring of fibers in the brain's circuitry system that may give rise to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Her research has also led to the understanding that schizophrenia and bipolar do not involve typical degenerative changes in the brain, like those seen in Alzheimer's disease. Benes also identified two different maturational changes that could possibly contribute to the onset of schizophrenia during adolescence.

Taken together with her work on brain development, Benes' findings have opened up areas of research that could lead to new treatment and prevention strategies for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and offset the cognitive, emotional and functional deterioration that ensues in people with these devastating illnesses.

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