Emory receives $12.7 million grant to continue oxytocin research

Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Brain Health Center have received a five-year, $12.7 million National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to continue innovative research on oxytocin, a brain chemical known for establishing mother-infant bonds, at the University’s Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition.

The goal of the Conte Center research during the next five years is to use cutting-edge technologies, including CRISPR gene editing and optogenetics, in research with rodents and nonhuman primates to understand more precisely the way oxytocin acts in the brain, including its role in neural communication and social functioning. 

“We want to translate this knowledge to treatments to improve social functioning in disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions,” says Larry Young, PhD, who will lead the Conte Center team, which includes researchers at Yerkes and Emory as well as the University of Arizona. Young is chief of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at the Yerkes Research Center, director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) at Emory and professor of psychiatry in Emory’s School of Medicine. Dr. Young is also a faculty member in the NS and PBEE programs.

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