The mission of the Department of Psychiatry’s schizophrenia research group is to develop more effective and better-tolerated treatments for individuals with this chronic mental illness. Under the leadership of Donald C. Goff, MD, our investigators use emerging technologies, including brain imaging, genetics, bioinformatics, and computational neuroscience, to advance our understanding of schizophrenia and identify new treatment targets.
Treatment approaches we evaluate include pharmacologic agents, cognitive remediation, cognitive behavioral therapy, mobile digital technology, and neuromodulation. Using a precision medicine model, researchers match these treatments to individual patients using novel biomarkers.
Our faculty study schizophrenia at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital, NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, and the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Manhattan Psychiatric Center and 125th Street Clinic, and The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. This wide range of clinical settings allows our investigators to study both early (particularly first episode) and later-stage psychosis. We are also able to focus on groups with the greatest unmet needs, including individuals with treatment-resistant illness, negative symptoms, cognitive deficits, comorbid illness, and those with a history of self-harm or violence.
Our current trials investigate treatments that may benefit patients early in the disease process and the role of hippocampal memory circuits in delusions.
Clozapine for the Prevention of Violence in Schizophrenia
This is a 24-week study investigating the effects of treatment with clozapine compared to antipsychotic treatment as usual (TAU) for reducing the risk of violent acts in real-world settings. Adults ages 18 to 65 with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who have committed a violent act within the past six months and are appropriate for treatment with clozapine or TAU are eligible. Participants will receive psychiatric assessments and medical monitoring, including blood draws and physical exams.
Levetiracetam in Early Psychosis
This is a 12-week study of levetiracetam added to a second-generation antipsychotic in early psychosis patients who have been ill for less than 5 years and continue to experience psychotic symptoms (delusions and/or hallucinations) despite at least 8 weeks of antipsychotic treatment. Levetiracetam (Keppra) is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of epilepsy; it reduces excessive activity in the brain. This study will test the hypothesis that adding levetiracetam will improve psychotic symptoms that are unresponsive to antipsychotic treatment and will protect the brain from atrophy (volume loss). All subjects will receive a comprehensive psychiatric and medical evaluation by Dr. Goff as part of participation.
Hippocampal Memory Circuits in Delusions
Dr. Goff and his colleagues are using three novel high-resolution task-based and post-encoding resting functional MRI paradigms (pattern separation, sequential associative mismatch, and encoding plasticity) to assess hippocampal activity in patients with first episode psychosis before and after antipsychotic treatment. Fifty first psychosis subjects and 50 healthy matched controls are being assigned to each of the 3 imaging methods. Investigators are evaluating psychosis subjects at baseline and at eight weeks after starting antipsychotic medication to determine whether changes in delusions correlate with hippocampal changes detected on imaging.
Focused Ultrasound Modulation of the Globus Pallidus Interna in Schizophrenia
The goal of this trial is to determine the tolerability of pulsed low-intensity focused ultrasound (PLIFUS) targeting the right globus pallidus and its effects on brain function in individuals with schizophrenia. This sham-controlled, crossover, pilot trial will enroll 12 adults with schizophrenia who report continuous hallucinations or delusions of mild or greater severity. Participants will receive one 10-minute session of PLIFUS and one 10-minute session of sham PLIFUS in random order, one week apart. Patients will receive functional MRI (fMRI) scans before and after treatment, and a medical evaluation will be performed following the sessions.
Basic and Translational Research
To translate new findings in basic and cognitive neuroscience to the clinic, our investigators take advantage of the rich neuroscience environment at NYU Langone, employing a team approach with colleagues at the Neuroscience Institute. We also work with the Center for Neural Science at NYU, and The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatry Research.
Our researchers are funded by National Institutes of Health and not-for-profit health foundation grants.
National Institute of Mental Health
Clozapine for the Prevention of Violence in Schizophrenia; NIH R01MH120317
Levetiracetam in First Episode Psychosis; NIH R33MH112833
Hippocampal Memory Circuits in Delusions; NIH R01MH112733
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Neural Correlates of Emotional Regulation in Psychosis with Suicidal Ideation and Behavior; 2018 Standard Research Grant
We offer medical students, residents, and fellows basic, translational, and clinical research opportunities in schizophrenia.
Our research faculty are experts in schizophrenia research.
For further information about the schizophrenia research group, please contact Dr. Goff at email@example.com.
Our schizophrenia research faculty publish frequently in peer-reviewed journals. Here is a selection of their recent publications.
Brain metabolite levels in remitted psychotic depression with consideration of effects of antipsychotic medication
Brain imaging & behavior. 2024 Feb ; 18:117-129
Structural-functional connectivity deficits of callosal-white matter-cortical circuits in schizophrenia
Psychiatry research. 2023 Dec ; 330:115559
Microstructural and Microvascular Alterations in Psychotic Spectrum Disorders: A Three-Compartment Intravoxel Incoherent Imaging and Free Water Model
Schizophrenia bulletin. 2023 Nov 29; 49:1542-1553
Aberrant resting-state functional connectivity of the globus pallidus interna in first-episode schizophrenia
Schizophrenia research. 2023 Nov ; 261:100-106
Effects of antipsychotic medication on functional connectivity in major depressive disorder with psychotic features
Molecular psychiatry. 2023 Aug ; 28:3305-3313
Computerized cognitive and social cognition training in schizophrenia for impulsive aggression
Schizophrenia research. 2023 Jun ; 256:117-125
Hippocampal Subfield Volumes Predict Disengagement from Maintenance Treatment in First Episode Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia bulletin. 2023 Jan 03; 49:34-42
Neural Correlates of Psychopathic Traits in Schizophrenia: fMRI Study of Response Inhibition in Persistently Violent Patients
Schizophrenia bulletin open. 2023 Jan 01; 4:?-?