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Dr. Joshua Roffman is a board certified psychiatrist and investigator in the MGH Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program (SCRP). He is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Brain Genomics Laboratory at MGH.
After graduating with high honors in neuroscience at Amherst College, Dr. Roffman completed his medical training at the University of Maryland, National Institutes of Health, and MGH-McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program. He was the recipient of early career awards from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and NARSAD/Brain & Behavior Research Foundation among others. His research is currently supported by NIMH, NARSAD, and MQ: Transforming Mental Health, where he was named one of the inaugural MQ Fellows.
Dr. Roffman's research merges brain imaging, genomics, and clinical trials to examine folic acid abnormalities in schizophrenia. His previous work has linked low-functioning genetic variants in the folate metabolic pathway to increased risk for negative symptoms, cognitive impairment, and related alterations in brain activation. Recently completed clinical trials conducted by Dr. Roffman and colleagues at the SCRP have identified modest protective effects of folic acid supplementation, especially among individuals who carry the previously identified genetic variants. Dr. Roffman is currently exploring how variation in folate-related genes, dietary folate intake, and exposure to folic acid during neurodevelopment influence MRI-based markers of schizophrenia vulnerability.
Dr. Roffman is also co-director of the Brain Genomics Superstruct Project, a unique collection of MRI scans and genomic data from >3,500 individuals. Using this resource, Dr. Roffman is examining how genes expressed early in brain development influence MRI markers that are abnormal in schizophrenia. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify biological pathways that may be targeted by folate-based interventions for individuals who are at increased genetic risk for schizophrenia.
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that fortifying grain-based foods with folic acid – instituted to prevent neural tube defects in infants – may also reduce the incidence of severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia that initially appear in young adulthood
Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that dopamine signaling within the cerebral cortex can predict changes in the extent of communication between key brain networks during working memory.
MGH investigators have identified changes in the metabolic activity of a key brain region in patients successfully treated for depression with psychodynamic psychotherapy and found evidence that metabolism in a different structure might predict which patients are likely to respond to that form of therapy.
Adding the dietary supplements folate and vitamin B12 to treatment with antipsychotic medication improved a core symptom component of schizophrenia in a study of more than 100 patients.
This presentation by Joshua Roffman, MD, MMSc, Director of Research for the Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program at Mass General, was part of Schizophrenia Education Day 2018: Progress in Schizophrenia.
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