2024 Global Schizophrenia Award

Camilo de la Fuente Sandoval Named the 2024 Global Schizophrenia Awardee

Since I began my career in academic psychiatry, I have been actively involved in research, teaching and university service within the Department of Neuropsychiatry at the Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía (INNN) in Mexico City. My training as a psychiatrist followed by a Masters and PhD focusing on Schizophrenia Research has allowed me to develop a career in clinical research, focusing on biomarkers in early psychosis including functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology, cognition, and inflammation. I have also established a clinic for patients with first-episode psychosis and clinical high risk at the INNN, which allowed to establish collaborations both nationally, with several Mexican academic institutions, and internationally with other universities in the US, Canada and Latin America.

It is a great honor to receive the 2024 SIRS Global Schizophrenia Award. This award represents an important recognition for the work that is done in Mexico and other countries in Latin America. As we all know, most patients with schizophrenia in the world live in similar low- and middle-income settings. Many times, our patients have difficulties accessing timely treatment, enduring a long duration of untreated psychosis, or are offered pharmacological or psychosocial treatments that might be considered sub-optimal in upper income countries. However, a small proportion of research studies are done in those countries, and there is still much to learn about how to help our patients in our settings.

Local research funding opportunities are limited, understandably economic efforts must focus on the immediate priorities, such as violence, poverty and social inequality. Alongside lower access to research grants, language barrier and information access represent an additional obstacle for the incursion in academia. The increasing transformation to open-access journals, commonly seen as an advance, represents a setback in our countries, as a publication fee might equal a year’s salary of a postdoctoral student. I express my praise to the Schizophrenia International Research Society for this award and their efforts for inclusion of underrepresented communities. My gratitude to the students, mentors and colleagues in Mexico and abroad, and to the Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía for supporting my career.

A Message from Nicolas Crossley

I am delighted to hear that Dr Camilo de la Fuente-Sandoval from Mexico has been selected for the Global Schizophrenia Award 2024. Over the last two decades and despite limited resources, he has made significant contributions to schizophrenia research. Perhaps his best-known works are his groundbreaking studies using MRI spectroscopy in antipsychotic-naïve individuals experiencing their first episode of psychosis. These investigations have profoundly influenced our current understanding of the neurochemical alterations linked to psychosis onset and subsequent antipsychotic treatment. I have had the opportunity to visit him at his research institute in Mexico City, where I witnessed firsthand Dr. de la Fuente-Sandoval's effective leadership, which has enabled the execution of such pioneering studies. He has implemented a streamlined process within their busy inner-city emergency department, whereby individuals presenting with a first episode of psychosis are promptly recruited, assessed, and scanned prior to receiving any antipsychotic intervention, even out-of-hours and on weekends. This meticulous approach ensures minimal delay in initiating appropriate antipsychotic therapy for patients in need.

Another area of Dr. de la Fuente-Sandoval's work that captivates my interest is his research into a subset of patients living in remote rural regions of Mexico, who often access mental health services at an advanced stage of their illness. This line of inquiry has yielded a series of illuminating publications elucidating the natural progression of psychosis in the absence of antipsychotic treatment, both looking at changes in cognitive function and brain imaging biomarkers. Dr. de la Fuente-Sandoval is an example of an outstanding researcher whose work is a synergy between translational neuroscience and global mental health, offering unparalleled insights into schizophrenia within resource-limited contexts. He serves as an inspirational role model for emerging Mexican researchers in the field of schizophrenia, and his contributions stand as a beacon of motivation for all of us scholars engaged in schizophrenia research across the Global South.

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