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UM SOM Appoints Prominent Physician Scientist Dr. Robert W. Buchanan as New Director of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center

March 01, 2016

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, along with Bankole Johnson, DSc, MD, MB, ChB, MPhil, Chairman of the UM SOM Department of Psychiatry, announced today that Robert W. Buchanan, MD, has been appointed Director of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC) – a center dedicated to conducting basic, clinical and translational research on the causes and treatment of schizophrenia and other neurologic disorders.  The MPRC is a UM SOM Organized Research Center based in the Department of Psychiatry, and located on the campus of Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, MD.  The MPRC operates as a collaborative program with the State of Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
 
The MPRC is world renowned as a top tier research institution for the study of schizophrenia and related disorders of the brain.  The MPRC uniquely integrates basic neuroscientists and clinical scientists in a single location, which creates an environment that fosters ongoing interactions among faculty with different areas of expertise and disciplines.  This novel environment results in the production of cutting edge research in the areas of the basic and clinical neurobiology and treatment of schizophrenia.  In addition to multiple individual R01 grants, MPRC faculty members have successfully competed for program, project and center grants, with almost 30 years of continuous funding from various NIMH center mechanisms.  The MPRC also  has a Silvio O. Conte Center, one of only two established in the U.S., to study the relationship between schizophrenia and increase in the brain levels of kyunrenic acid.
 
In FY 2015, the MPRC had more than $12M in total grants and contracts, including $8.6M in NIH funding (direct and indirect costs.)
 
MPRC faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their leadership in the field of schizophrenia research, with two faculty elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and have received top awards in the field, including the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the National Academy of Science; the American College of Psychiatrists Stanley Dean Research Award; the American Psychiatric Association (APA)/Kempf Fund Award Research Development in Psychobiological Psychiatry; the APA Award for Research; the American Psychological Foundation Alexander Gralnick Investigator Award; and the ASPET Epilepsy Research Award.  The MPRC shares ownership with the Oxford University Press for the Schizophrenia Bulletin, a top ranked journal in the field as well as in the medical social sciences. 
 
In addition to its research mission, the MPRC has several programs related to its clinical and educational missions, all of which will continue under the leadership of Dr. Buchanan, including the Maryland Early Intervention Program – a collaborative effort across multiple divisions within the Department of Psychiatry and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, which is funded through the State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (DHMH)
 
Dr. Buchanan, who is one of the most recognized scientists in the field of schizophrenia and related disorders worldwide.  He has served as interim director of the MPRC since 2013, when William T. (“Will”) Carpenter, MD, stepped down from the position.  Dr. Carpenter, who left a lasting legacy at MPRC, had a long and distinguished career of pioneering research and discovery in which he helped define a new paradigm for the study of schizophrenia.  
 
Dr. Buchanan will continue to provide leadership for the scientific direction of the Center’s Pre-Clinical and Clinical Science.  In particular, he will continue several new MPRC initiatives, including the delineation of the neurobiology of schizophrenia and related disorders, through the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques, innovative animal models, and cognitive neuroscience, and the development of new pharmacological approaches for the treatment of patients with negative symptoms or cognitive impairments, both of which are critical unmet therapeutic needs in schizophrenia, and represent areas of investigation for which he is an international leader.
 
“Dr. Buchanan has provided a strong and steady leadership to MPRC as Interim Director,” said Dean Reece, who is who is also the vice president for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.  “We are fortunate to have such an accomplished scholar and scientist to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Carpenter who will advance the Center forward to a new level of innovation and discovery and develop novel strategies for a broad range of neurologic disorders.”
 
Dr. Buchanan has a long and productive history of conducting research to better understand schizophrenia and how it can best be treated. Over the past two decades, he has repeatedly been among the top one percent of cited authors in his field. He is currently conducting a series of NIMH and foundation-funded studies examining novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of cognitive and social function impairments and persistent positive symptoms, including the use of add-on oxytocin and anti-inflammatory and anti-viral agents. 
 
“We look forward to continuing the integration of MPRC’s groundbreaking work with research in the Department of Psychiatry and with the school’s Brain Science Research Consortium Unit,” said Prof. Johnson. “It is exciting to see the incredible progress we are making in understanding the brain and the pathology of brain disorders.”
 
Dr. Buchanan completed his undergraduate studies at Lehigh University, where he earned a BS degree in Chemical Engineering. He received his MD degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, before going on to George Washington University Medical Center for his residency training in psychiatry. Upon completion of his psychiatry residency, he spent two years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the National Health Services Corps, before joining the MPRC as a Research Fellow in 1986.
 
About the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center
 
The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC) is dedicated to providing treatment to patients with schizophrenia and related disorders, educating professionals and consumers about schizophrenia, and conducting basic and translational research into the manifestations, causes, and treatment of schizophrenia. An internationally recognized research center, the MPRC is a University of Maryland School of Medicine Organized Research Center within the Department of Psychiatry. The MPRC operates as a joint program with the State of Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The MPRC is located in Catonsville, Maryland, just south of Baltimore.  For more information, visit www.mprc.umaryland.edu.

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