Jonathan Picker, MBChB, PhD
|Hospital Title||Director, Fragile X Program|
|Academic Title||Instructor in Pediatrics|
300 Longwood Avenue
Division of Genetics, Hunnewell 5
Boston, MA 02115
Our research focuses on the neurobiology of behavioral disorders. We are particularly interested in developmental factors, which lead to the neurological problems seen in disorders such as schizophrenia, Fragile X syndrome and other neurocognitive disorders.
A growing number of studies suggest that an inability to fine-tune signals traveling through glutamate synapses between neurons may be integral to schizophrenia. In collaboration with Joe Coyle at McLean Hospital, we are testing this hypothesis by creating and studying the behavior of animal models in which glutamate-based neuronal signaling is disturbed.
Many metabolic disorders can result in psychiatric disease as a consequence of biochemical imbalances in the brain. This includes homocystinuria, a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated levels of homocysteine. In collaboration with Susan Waisbren, PhD, and Harvey Levy, MD, we are investigating the biochemical changes that may underlie the neuropsychiatric symptoms that occur in patients suffering from various forms of this disease.
A number of promising targeted pharmaceutical agents are being developed for Fragile X syndrome. However, because the syndrome has a significant behavioral component that is difficult to measure quantitatively, the efficacy of these therapeutic strategies will be difficult to determine. We are evaluating transcranial magnetic stimulation as a potential way to quantify the effect of these drugs in Fragile X patients, as measured by brain activity, in hopes of using it in future clinical trials to measure the efficacy of these therapeutic agents.
For more information in this study, contact Lindsay Oberman at 617-667-5247 or email@example.com. We are also investigating the possibility of a targeted drug trial that would look at behavioral outcomes.
About Jonathan Picker
Jonathan Picker is director of the Fragile X program and an attending physician at Children's Hospital Boston. He received his PhD in Molecular Biology from Newcastle University in England and his medical degree (MBChB) from Aberdeen University in Scotland. He completed an internship in surgery at Salford Royal Hospital in England and in medicine at Noble's Hospital on the Isle of Man. He had training in pediatric surgery at Sheffield Children's Hospital (South Yorkshire) before carrying out a behaviorally oriented pediatric residency in the Newcastle University pediatric training program in England. He then completed a fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Children's Hospital Boston. He is board-certified in clinical genetics.
Han L et al. Phenotypic characterization of mice heterozygous for a null mutation of glutamate carboxypeptidase II. Synapse 2009 Aug; 63(8):625-35.
Hagerman RJ, et al. Advances in the treatment of fragile X syndrome. Pediatrics 2009 Jan; 123(1):378-90.
Picker JD, Levy HL. Homocystinuria caused by cystathionine beta synthase deficiency. In: Pagon RA, Bird TC, Dolan CR, Stephens K, editors. GeneReviews [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2004 Jan 15 [updated 2006 Mar 29].
Lawson-Yuen A et al. Familial deletion within NLGN4 associated with autism and Tourette syndrome. Eur J Human Genet 2008 May; 16(5):614-8.
- Picker JD, Coyle JT. Do maternal folate and homocysteine levels play a role in neurodevelopmental processes that increase risk for schizophrenia? Harv Rev Psychiatry 2005 Jul-Aug; 13(4):197-205.
For a complete list of Jonathan Picker's publications in PubMed, click here.