The Sackler Institute, established in April 2001 within the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Department of Psychiatry, supports research on the developmental origins of vulnerability to psychiatric illness. The endowment funds innovative projects and preliminary studies that provide the basis for long-term federal support for new research directions, such as the annual Sackler awards.
In 2008, the Institute received additional funding for an interdisciplinary study of the developmental effects of serotonin transporter function, involving six different laboratories and all faculty members. This project seeks to better understand the untoward effects of SSRI type drugs in younger patients and during the fetal period, as well as the seemingly paradoxical effects of genetic polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter gene in clinical populations, and of targeted serotonin transporter gene alterations in mice. In both of these latter populations, vulnerability to depression (or depression-like behaviors) is unexpectedly increased.
The Institute is applying for federal major support based on the preliminary findings from this project.