NIH grant seeks to identify common links between OCD, depression to foster new treatments

Research & Innovation

Jayme Blaschke | November 15, 2021

man sitting on couch with hands on face
de nadai headshot
Alex De Nadai

Alex De Nadai, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, is part of a research team that has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to identify potential new treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depressive disorder (MDD).

De Nadia will serve as the Texas State site principal investigator (PI) for the project, "Behavioral and Neural Heterogeneity in OCD and Depression," which will run through 2026. Emily Stern, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, will serve as the overall PI.

OCD and MDD are major sources of disability worldwide. Unfortunately, fewer than half of patients with these conditions will respond completely to first-line treatments. Treatment may be impeded by the fact that OCD and MDD are both highly complex and overlap substantially, with different symptom presentations likely derived from differing psychological and neurobiological causes. The project team will investigate relationships between brain function and clinical symptoms in a large sample of patients with OCD and MDD, with a goal of identifying neural and other mechanisms that can guide new treatment development.

Specific focus is being placed on the relationship between brain activation along with interoceptive sensitivity (the accurate perceptions of the body's internal signals) and persistent and unwanted negative thoughts. The study will use unsupervised machine learning to simultaneously integrate all of this information to uncover neurobiological profiles that characterize differences in symptom presentation and possibly affect treatment response.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922