Leandro Valiengo, University of Sao Paulo
We are excited to share that the SIRS 2020 Research Fund Awardee, Leandro Valiengo, has agreed to a SIRS Q&A. View our questions and his answers below!
What were you able to achieve with the SIRS Research Fund Award?
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are very hard to treat and very disabling. If photobiomodulation is demonstrated to be effective in future clinical trials, then it may help patients and their families to cope with the disease and improve their life quality.
How has your work shaped today's ongoing research?
Today we are focusing on expanding the results of this pilot assessment by developing new clinical trials with new variables and more patients..
How has your work made an impact on patient's lives?
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are very hard to treat and very disabling. Giving them an option of treatment with favorable results, helps them and their families to cope with the disease and improves their life quality.
What is your ultimate goal in research?
Now I want to explore the benefits of this technique (and maybe other types of noninvasive neuromodulation) in other symptoms of schizophrenia. My main objective is to improve the quality of life of patients with schizophrenia (and other severe mental disorders) through new treatments that have fewer side effects. I also intend to keep mentoring graduation and post-graduation students to initiate or expand their research skills.
What made you decide to pursue research into psychosis/schizophrenia?
Treatment resistance in Schizophrenia is very common. This condition inputs a high rate of disability, and the negative symptoms are challenging to treat and limit the quality of life of the patients. So, the search for new treatments in this area, especially concerning the negative symptoms of the disorder, was imperative.
What made you pursue these specific research methods (i.e. genetics, neuroimaging, postmortem, etc.)?
I used brain photobiomodulation because there were other studies using this technique for Alzheimer's disease with promising results. My hypothesis was that if we used the same technique to stimulate the prefrontal cortex, known to be dysregulated in the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, the patients would have an improvement in symptom control.
What researcher/scientist (doesn't have to be a SIRS member) has influenced your work the most and how?
My mentor is Prof. Andre Brunoni, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who studies the use of neuromodulation techniques for humor disorders. He has a brief but extremely productive research career, with some impressive results, and has already published in highly prestigious periods, like NEJM and Lancet.
The Research Fund Award program is intended to provide research funds for junior investigators who have an important idea or hypothesis to test, but are lacking in research funds to do so. You can find out more by clicking here.