2019 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Identification of peripheral biomarkers of antidepressant response in obsessive compulsive disorder

Gwyneth Zai, MD, PhD

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Award Amount: $50,000

Although many options are available, many people with OCD who take medication to manage their disorder need to try several different medications before finding one that works. This means months or even years of trying – and failing– to find effective treatment for their symptoms.

Dr. Zai and her team seek to reveal biomarkers that can be identified through a blood test, which could predict the type of antidepressant that will work best for each unique patient. Using a sample of 50 people with OCD who have responded well to antidepressants and 50 who did not respond to two or more antidepressants, the team is investigating the differences in genetic markers, as well as those that correspond to genetic and environmental changes. Through these efforts, it would be possible to match patients with effective medication immediately, which could dramatically improve outcomes for many people with OCD.