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NARSAD's 5th Annual 'Mission Possible' Symposium Offers Insight to PTSD and Other Mental Illnesses

Free Event is Open to the Public, Providing Access to Psychiatric Experts Specializing in Trauma, Genetics, Mood Disorders and Childhood Illnesses

WASHINGTON, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mental health professionals and residents of the Greater Washington, D.C., area will have an opportunity on Sunday, March 30th, to learn more about the growing crisis of PTSD in the military and about other serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and childhood disorders, in an all-day, free public forum presented by NARSAD, the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research.

The forum, which will feature talks by some of the country's leading experts on these issues, is NARSAD's fifth annual Washington, D.C., "Mission Possible" Mental Health Research Symposium. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, located at 730 21st Street, N.W. (On the Metro, orange line to Foggy Bottom). While the symposium is free and open to the public, reservations are recommended and can be made by sending an e-mail to, or by calling 703-535-1577.

Mental illness disables the lives of nearly 60 million Americans each year, making it the leading disability for people aged 15-44. It affects our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and businesses. NARSAD presents free symposia around the country to make mental health experts and the latest developments in research more accessible to the public.

The March 30th symposium in Washington, D.C., will kick off with a session on "PTSD in our Armed Forces," where attendees will receive a comprehensive briefing from some of the most prominent experts on the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which now affects more than 7 million adult Americans, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), their causes and symptoms, and new treatment developments.

The presentations will include:

-- "Taking Care of Soldiers and Families - Past, Present and Future" by Lt. Gen (R) Theodore G. Stroup, Jr., vice president of education, Association of the U.S. Army, who will discuss how the Army historically has addressed mental trauma to soldiers, citing instances where it has been on the forefront of treating battlefield trauma.

-- "PTSD: From Battlefront to Homefront" by Robert Ursano, M.D., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, and director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, who will discuss rates of PTSD and TBI, effects on soldiers and their families, and planning for the healthcare needs of returning veterans.

-- "Psychological Health and Traumatic Brian Injury" by Colonel (P) Loree Sutton, M.D., the newly installed director of the Department of Defense Center for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, who will present on the Center's efforts to address the healthcare needs of service personnel and their families who are coping with psychological problems and brain injury.

-- "The Mental Health Consequences of War" by Yuval Neria, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Epidemiology, Columbia University, who will discuss the mental health consequences of war. Dr. Neria is also the director of the trauma and PTSD program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He brings significant insight as a veteran of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. His experience of having served and suffered an injury during that war has played a major role in his scientific work. A published author in the areas of PTSD and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, he is also an expert on PTSD in the general population, especially among those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The second session will begin at 1 p.m. with a broader focus on "New Directions and Future Trends in Psychiatric Disorders Research." The session's presenters will report on new developments in research on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and childhood mental disorders.

-- "How Do Genes Cause Mental Illness?" by Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., director of the Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, who will explain how genes can be used to understand basic mechanisms of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

-- "New Treatment Approaches for Bipolar Disorder" by Andrew Nierenberg, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and associate director, Depression Clinical and Research Program, and medical director, Bipolar Clinic and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, who will discuss his work in a pioneering study, the STEP-BD program, which follows 4,000 participants affected by treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, and the promising new results of that study.

-- "What is the Brain Teaching Us About Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders?" by Francisco Xavier Castellanos, M.D., director of research, New York University Child Study Center, who will discuss the role of neuroscience research in the clinical decision-making process regarding the diagnosis and treatment of childhood mental illnesses such as ADHD, depression and bipolar disorder.

The symposium's sessions will be moderated by Darrel A. Regier, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education and director of the Division of Research of the American Psychiatric Association.

Professional continuing medical education credits will be made available. This activity has been approved for 5 AMA PRA Category 1(TM) credits. Also, the Metro-D.C. Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has approved this activity for 6 credits.

This year's symposium is made possible through a partnership of NARSAD, the Washington Psychiatric Society, and the Uniformed Services Branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

NARSAD will also host its fifth annual Washington, D.C., Mission Possible fundraising gala on April 21, 2008, at the Swedish Embassy's House of Sweden. For more information, visit

NARSAD is the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research. Its mission is to alleviate human suffering from mental illness by raising funds for scientific research on the causes, treatment and prevention of serious mental disorders -- all with the goal of finding cures. Since 1987, NARSAD has distributed more than $220 million in research grants to support promising, innovative studies by more than 2,500 scientists at leading universities, medical centers and research institutions around the world.

NARSAD's funding of research focuses primarily on schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and childhood mental illness. Its grants programs are guided by its Scientific Council, a volunteer group comprised of 103 of the most gifted minds in neuroscience, which reviews and recommends research proposals for funding. For more information, call 1-800-829-8289, or visit us at

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