wmhrp subcat Psychosis

One of the primary focuses of Dr. Leah Rubin’s program of research is to better understand sex differences in psychosis through the exploration of hormonal contributions to this mental illness. This work is important given that the course of schizophrenia is more benign in women than in men and thus, sex differences in neuroendocrine, genetic and/or epigenetics factors may contribute to sex differences in clinical presentation and cognitive abilities. The goal of the research is to identify sex-specific, neurohormonal treatments for mental illness and to improve the lives of individuals with severe mental illness.

To date, Dr. Rubin’s work has yielded novel and important findings of sex differences in the impact of antipsychotic treatment on sexually dimorphic cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. The primary finding was that women and men differed in the cognitive benefits they derived from antipsychotic treatment. Other findings from her work are that high levels of peripheral oxytocin are protective across a broad range of clinical symptoms and emotion perception in women but not men with schizophrenia.


Oxytocin Alterations in Schizophrenia: Plasma levels and gene methylation in patients and relatives
PI: Leah Rubin, PhD
The goal of this project was to investigate endogenous oxytocin and oxytocin receptor epigenetics in patients with schizophrenia, relatives and controls. This study was funded by a NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation from 2013-2015.


The Role of Endogenous Neurohormones in Modulating Clinical Symptoms, Social/Emotional and Cognitive Functioning in Schizophrenia
BIRCWH Scholar: Leah Rubin, PhD
This mentored award focused on understanding how two sexually dimorphic neurohormones – oxytocin and vasopressin – may contribute to sex differences in schizophrenia. Dr. Rubin received this award in 2010. Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) is a women’s health research career development program at UIC. It is funded by a 10-year K12 institutional training grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (K12 HD055892-10).


Effects of Estrogen on Cognition in Schizophrenia
PI: Leah Rubin, PhD
The goal of this mentored award was to identify neuroendocrine mechanisms that contribute to variations in cognitive function in schizophrenia. Specifically, Dr. Rubin aimed to characterize how individual variation in estrogen levels affected cognitive abilities that showed a sex difference. This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 2007-2009 (F31 MH082480).

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