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DGC-affiliated researcher Elaine Hsiao awarded funding to investigate link between gut microbiome, antidepressants, maternal depression

  • September 01, 2023

Elaine Hsiao, PhD, director of the UCLA Goodman–Luskin Microbiome Center and an expert on the ways in which the gut microbiome influences neurobiology, has been awarded funding by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to lead a new maternal mental health research study. Dr. Hsiao’s research, which includes collaboration with DGC Director Nelson Freimer, DGC-affiliated faculty Misty Richards, MD, and others, will investigate the fundamental biological mechanisms underlying interactions between the gut microbiome and antidepressants, and, further, seeks to illuminate how such interactions impact the effects of antidepressant treatments for maternal depression during pregnancy.

The study, “Uncovering Microbial Modifiers of Antidepressant Responses during Pregnancy,” explores the gut microbiome: as a predictor of responses to antidepressant treatment in depression and perinatal depression; as a means to modify immune function in depression; and its function in depression and co-morbid gastrointestinal disorders.

In carrying out this study, Dr. Hsiao builds on previous research on the gut microbiome and depression conducted in DGC patient cohorts and leverages the research infrastructure established by the DGC for a wide range of research studies focused on parent and infant mental health. The study will be based in the Maternal Outpatient Mental Health Services (MOMS) Clinic led by Dr. Richards and sited within the UCLA Health Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.