Psychiatry: Faculty and Staff
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Psychiatry
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
Phone: (240) 499-1171
Fax: (301) 251-8602
Maree J. Webster, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
B.Sc. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Ph.D. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
PostDoc. Neurobiology, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA
PostDoc. Neuroscience, NIMH, MD, USA
Neuropathology of severe mental illness
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder are two major psychotic disorders effecting approximately 3% of the world population. They both have a peak onset in late adolescence and early adulthood. Human genetic and epidemiological studies have shown that the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may involve many chromosomal loci and environmental influences. Neurodevelopmental abnormalities combined with environmental triggers may also contribute to the expression and manifestation of the symptoms.
The Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) Laboratory of Brain Research, directed by Maree Webster, is a repository of over 600 brain specimens from subjects with schizophrenia, affective disorders and unaffected controls. Dr. Webster oversees the collection, storage, processing and distribution of the samples to research laboratories around the world. Researchers send data collected from the specimens back to a central database at SMRI. Many of the studies conducted in the laboratory are designed to replicate and verify important novel results that are submitted to SMRI. In addition, Dr Webster undertakes studies that focus on the molecular mechanisms controlling normal brain development, with the possibility that these mechanisms may be disrupted in severe mental illness. Using RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and western blotting techniques the studies are designed to detect abnormalities in the expression and regulation of neurotrophic and transcription factors in both neurons and glia of subjects with severe mental illness. In conjunction to these studies she also investigates the expression of neurotrophins, transcription factors, hormones and receptors during the development of the normal human and nonhuman primate brain. This data will provide a better understanding of the periods when the developing brain is most vulnerable to environmental stimuli, such as viruses, that could impact the developing system and lead to the neural abnormalities that result in severe mental illness.