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Conducting Translational Neuroscience Research

Posted on August 11, 2014

Susanne Ahmari (bio) explains how she integrates her clinical training and skills with basic neuroscience research.


So, I really enjoy doing translational neuroscience research because I feel like it actually allows me to integrate my clinical training and clinical skills with the basic neuroscience research that I really love doing. And so, translational research, of course, can mean many different things. For me, what it means is that I'm taking, number one, findings from clinical research studies — so for example, findings from neuroimaging studies — and then trying to model those findings in animal systems so that we can actually test hypotheses that are suggested by the clinical findings but that we could never test in humans.

So that's one way that I really think about doing translational research, is trying to take findings from people and then answer questions that you couldn't answer by using a model system. The other thing, though, that I don't do that much in terms of clinical studies these days, although my lab is trying to reintegrate some of that now as well. But, what I do like to do is actually talk to patients a lot. I have private practice, and through that I've talked to a lot of patients in great detail about their obsessive compulsive disorder or about their anxiety, and by doing that I've been able to actually come up with new hypotheses based on what they're thinking, what they're feeling, how they see their obsessions and compulsions evolving. And, I can try to frame those — I can translate that information then directly into questions that we can ask in the mice. And that's given us some new insights that we're currently pursuing in the lab that I think are really exciting.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2014 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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