UA Physician-Scientist Awarded Grant for Schizophrenia Diagnostic Test

by Mike Hunter

Amelia Gallitano, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and a faculty member of its Department of Basic Medical Sciences, has received a grant to develop the first diagnostic test for schizophrenia.

The $175,000 grant from the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation funds the development of a rapid and easily administered, biologically based test that could determine whether an individual has schizophrenia, or a specific subtype of the mental disorder. “No biological test exists to diagnose a mental illness such as schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Gallitano says.

“We’ve got a huge challenge in trying to find the causes of an illness that is poorly defined, that probably encompasses multiple illnesses that change over time and that is not diagnosable with any test,” says Dr. Gallitano. “Part of the problem is that psychological illnesses are not caused by genetics alone, but by genetics and environmental factors. We still don’t definitely know a cause for a single psychiatric illness.”

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