Symposium: Harnessing the Postmortem Human Brain to Study Severe Psychiatric Disorders: Methodological Innovations and Paradigm Shifts

SYMPOSIUM AT: The Society of Biological Psychiatry’s 71st Annual Scientific Convention May 12-14, 2016 Atlanta, Georgia “Illuminating the Scientific Process: Innovation, Replication, and Paradigm Shifts in Biological Psychiatry

Matosin N1, Meador-Woodruff JH2

1School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales; and the Schizophrenia Research Institute, Sydney, NSW Australia. 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

The postmortem human brain is a valuable resource for examining the biological basis of severe psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Postmortem studies provide a snapshot of the biochemical and molecular processes occurring in the brain under pathological conditions, which can be problematic to otherwise model due to their polygenic aetiologies. In the last decade, the neuroscience field has largely shifted towards mainstream use of several new experimental techniques with unprecedented accuracy, the ability to extricate minute details and generate large amounts of data from small amounts of sample. Applications of these techniques are revolutionizing the field of postmortem brain research by dramatically improving the way postmortem tissues are being studied and integrated with other evidence from neuroscience. The aim of this symposium is to convincingly convey this paradigm shift in human postmortem brain research. The works described by all our speakers showcase new techniques at the forefront of psychiatric neuroscience that have advanced the way we use postmortem tissues to identify molecular and neuroanatomical alterations that contribute to the manifestation of severe psychiatric conditions. As postmortem studies are especially valuable for directing and prioritizing future in vitro or in vivo experimental work, this symposium will be relevant to a wide audience outside of the postmortem research field. Focusing on new technologies, better scientific processes and paradigm shifts in psychiatry will not only consolidate and realign the postmortem research field, but provide a highly informed symposium which will ultimately improve our understanding of severe psychiatric conditions.


  1. Professor David Cotter, Royal College of Surgeons, Department of Psychiatry Beaumont Hospital Ireland. ‘Dissecting the synaptic proteome in the major psychoses’ 
  1. Assistant Professor Panagiotis (Panos) Roussos, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, USA. ‘Postmortem human brain and schizophrenia: big data analysis and genetic liability’ 
  1. Associate Professor David Volk, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, USA. ‘Advances in the understanding of cortical immune activation in psychotic disorders’ 
  1. Professor James Meador-Woodruff, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. ‘Dysregulated intracellular targeting and synaptic abnormalities of receptor proteins in schizophrenia’


Keywords: Novel methodologies/tools Schizophrenia / Psychotic disorders