Post doc Andrea Raballo
Structural psychopathology of clinical vulnerability phenotypes
Andrea Raballo, PhD
Identifying predisposing features and mechanisms of disease progression is essential to improve patient care and develop safer and more targeted treatments. Despite the dramatic, technology-driven advances in research however, the understanding of the complexity of mental disorders remains insufficient, partly because the availability of advanced neuroscientific approaches and techniques has not been paralleled by a comparably refined stratification of clinical phenotypes.
My current research is therefore targeted at understanding the mechanisms underlying different types of vulnerability to major psychiatric disorders (such as schizophrenia and affective spectrum conditions) through a more articulated definition of their psychopathological features. Improving the clinical-psychopathological profiling indeed magnifies the potential to identify genetic, neurobiological and neurodevelopmental factors associated to the disorders.
In particular, my current project involves four main, interrelated research directions:
- Study of the association between clinical and neuropsychological/imaging features of Early Onset Psychosis, with the purpose of understanding the mechanisms underlying different types of change in brain and neuro-cognition.
- Clinical and conceptual analyses of psychometric data collected within the NORMENT to optimize the phenotypic profiling of diagnostic groups. The purpose of this sub-project is to enhance the identification of presumed neurobiological correlates by improving the dimensional definition of the relevant psychopathological domains, going beyond the schemes of mainstream categorical groupings.
- Investigation of neurobiological correlates of non-psychotic anomalies of self-awareness (Self-disorders), that were identified as index of schizophrenia spectrum vulnerability in clinical and genetically high risk populations. The purpose of this sub-project is to gain a better understanding of premorbid vulnerability to psychosis in view of a more refined risk stratification, and estimate of illness course and outcome.
- Preparing a new population-based study exploring familial and developmental vulnerability to severe mental disorders, within the framework of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa – a longitudinal multi-disciplinary prospective study of the offsprings of more than 90,000 pregnant women recruited between 1999 and 2008).