The Psychosis Research Program (PRP) at the University of Illinois is interested in the study and treatment of persons with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The clinical and translational studies include studies of gene regulation, at the molecular and clinical level, using multiple experimental and clinical methods. The primary focus is the dissection of the ‘epigenetic’ layer of gene regulation, and the coordination of this system to genomic integrity, immune gene regulation, treatment response. We are targeting the relationship between biochemical measurements conducted in isolated peripheral immune monocytes, and the qualitative analysis of psychotic experiences. Epigenetic regulatory proteins are modified and catalyzed by a large number of enzymes present in all tissues, which are consequently accessible to multiple biochemical and pharmacological influences present in both the central and peripheral compartments. Additionally, we are also studying the phenomenology of hallucinations and delusions and targeted clinical treatment strategies/ interventions designed to decrease the level of distress that is commonly experienced with hearing voices and other extreme states.
Current studies include:
- Measurement of histone protein modification, a key element in epigenetic regulation;
- Characterization of hallucinatory experiences in living patients;
- Measurement of restrictive chromatin along gene promoter networks in postmortem brain tissue;
- The effect of trauma, stress, clinical symptomology, and epigenetic immunological factors in psychosis;
- The phenomenological constructs of hallucinations and delusions, metacognition and self-disturbances.