Alicia Smith, Ph.D.

Alicia Smith, Ph.D., Emory University

Young Investigator Grant (2008): $72,250

Mentor: Jeffrey Newport, M.D., Emory University

Genetic Variation in Glutamate Receptor Subunits May Contribute to Suicidal Ideation Susceptibility in Pregnancy

Abstract: Among pregnant women with psychiatric illness, almost a third experience suicidal ideation (SI) but the reasons for this is not clearly understood. In this study, the investigators will examine the impact of alterations in glutamate-mediated neurotransmission as a result of pregnancy. Gene expression profiles of two glutamate receptor subunits will be longitudinally studied in a sample of women with psychiatric illness, in the pre-conception period, during each trimester of pregnancy and postpartum. It is expected that the frequency of genetic polymorphisms in these genes will be more common in women who develop SI. If these polymorphisms can be linked to altered patterns of gene expression, and to SI, it may potentially open up new avenues for preventing or treating SI in psychiatrically vulnerable, pregnant women.