December 01, 2015


Washington, D.C. - Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) today announced $365,150 in federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) mental health research. UTSA will receive the funding through the NIH National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Mental Health Research Grants program, which supports research in the understanding of mental illnesses using basic and clinical research. Dr. Carlos Antonio Paladini in UTSA's Department of Biology will lead the research the award funds. 
"The neuroscience and mental health research being done at UTSA is potentially life-changing for the nearly one in five U.S. adults who experience mental illness in a given year,"? said Rep. Castro. "Improving our fundamental understanding of these conditions will help us develop treatments that provide affected folks with relief. This funding from NIH and the research it supports right here in San Antonio will allow us to make progress in better addressing mental illnesses that touch so many lives in our nation.?" 

Each year, an estimated 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent of, American adults experience mental illness. 

Specifically, the NIMH grant will support UTSA's research using electrophysiology, cellular imaging, and other techniques to study dopamine neuron activity. Dopamine neurons are associated with reinforcement learning as well as a number of psychiatric diseases and drug addiction. Understanding the fundamental processes of these neurons will clarify their role in reward behavior as well as the pathological states that may arise when these cells are not functioning properly. 
In FY 2014, NIH received 51,073 competing grant applications, and of those applications, only 9,241 received NIH funding awards. NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders and is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers that make up the National Institutes of Health, the nation's medical research agency.