Daniel C. Javitt, MD
Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Division of Experimental Therapetics
Director, Schizophrenia Research, Nathan Kline Institue for Psychiatric Research
Dr. Javitt's research focuses on brain mechanisms of psychosis and other severe psychiatric disorders, with special emphasis on the role of brain glutamate systems and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors in health and disease. Dr. Javitt was among the first to demonstrate a link between NMDA dysfunction and schizophrenia, and has been instrumental in developing glutamatergic theories of schizophrenia over the past 20 years. He was also among the first to test new classes of NMDA-based treatments for schizophrenia, including glycine, D-serine and glycine transport inhibitors, and has more recently initiated studies of NMDA receptor antagonists, such as ketamine and high-dose D-cycloserine in treatment of depression, and of brain stimulation methods, including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as an adjunct to cognitive remediation.
Dr. Javitt has published over 250 articles on topics relating to normal and abnormal brain function in serious psychiatric illness. He has received awards for his research from numerous organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Society for Biological Psychiatry, American College of Psychiatrists and the Child Welfare League of America. His work has also been featured in the PBS special "Prisoners of the Brain", and Scientific American. His research is supported by the National Institute for Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and other philanthropic organizations. He currently serves as associate editor of Schizophrenia Bulletin, and as an editorial board member for several prestigious journals including Schizophrenia Research and the American Journal of Psychiatry. He is a former chair of the NIMH NPAS study section. He is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, an advisory board member for the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation and a standing member of the Institute of Medicine Neuro Forum.
Dr. Javitt's current research focuses on the role of NMDA receptors in normal and abnormal brain function, with special emphasize on schizophrenia. NMDA receptors are one of several types of receptor for the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in brain. Several drugs of abuse, including phencyclidine (PCP) and ketamine, induce schizophrenia-like symptoms by blocking NMDA receptors, suggesting a prominent role for NMDA receptor dysfunction in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. In contrast, blockade of NMDA receptors by ketamine may be therapeutically beneficial in depression, suggesting a role for NMDA receptor hyperactivity.
Dr. Javitt uses neurophysiological methods, such as EEG and event-related potentials (ERP), and functional brain imaging to investigate the role of NMDA receptors in sensory processes such as auditory mismatch negativity (MMN) and visual magnocellular activity and the contribution of NMDA receptor dysfunction to cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. These studies have provided new insights into contributions of sensory dysfunction to impairments in higher level processes in schizophrenia, including impairments in attention, perception, social cognition, and reading. Dr. Javitt's research has led to the development of new classes of medication for schizophrenia, including glycine transport inhibitors, that are currently in phase III clinical trials. Dr. Javitt's most recent research focuses on the role of brain oscillations in cognition, and on the ability of brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to modulate normal and abnormal brain activity.