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Exploring the Social Brain: New Emory Center Focuses on Research Discoveries, Treatments for Autism, Schizophrenia

February 1, 2011

Center for Translational Social Neuroscience Kickoff Reception with Research Highlights Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, 4:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Cox Hall Ballroom, Emory University Open to the public: RSVP to Website:

Media Contacts

Emily Rios, 404-727-7732,; Holly Korschun, 404-727-3990,

ATLANTA — Researchers collaborating in a new center at Emory University are well positioned to increase scientific understanding of the social brain, leading to discoveries about how brain biology influences normal social behaviors and social disorders.

The Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) will serve as the common ground for researchers who are translating discoveries in the laboratory into new treatment strategies for improving social function in psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, in which social disruption is a core symptom.

These researchers will focus on drug discovery to reduce social deficits in autism and other disorders, and will create a pipeline from rodent models to nonhuman primate models to identify novel drug therapies. The researchers are also committed to training the next generation of scientists who can translate discoveries made in animals to treatments for humans.

The new center includes leading neurobehavioral researchers throughout Emory University, including director Larry Young, PhD, chief of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in Emory School of Medicine (biology of social relationships and bonding); Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at Yerkes (primate social behavior); Ami Klin, PhD, chief of the Marcus Autism Center, director of the Center for Autism Research in the Emory Department of Pediatrics (early diagnosis), and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar; and Stephen Warren, PhD, chair of the Emory Department of Human Genetics in Emory School of Medicine (genetics in autism).

Using multidisciplinary approaches and state-of-the-art technology, center scientists will explore the neurobiology of pro-social behaviors, including cooperation, compassion, bonding and social reciprocity. Analyses will include genomics, cellular biology, systems neuroscience and behavioral biology.

“The CTSN will foster intellectual exchange and collaboration between basic and translational researchers and clinicians at Emory and across the Atlanta community,” says Young. “Research in animal models has the potential to transform clinical practice, and research in clinical populations can provide novel insights into the organization of the social brain.”

Within the center, researchers will provide a unique training opportunity for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical residents through symposia, workshops, journal clubs and courses focused on integrating basic and clinical social neuroscience.

The CTSN will host an open house “kickoff” Feb. 10 to showcase the new center and highlight research on the biology of the social brain and disorders of social behavior. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.

For eight decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates.

Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health–funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology and immunology, neurologic diseases, neuropharmacology, behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience, and psychiatric disorders, Yerkes research programs are seeking ways to: treat drug addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases; unlock the secrets of memory; determine how the interaction between genetics and society shape who we are; develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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