Ostroumov Receives Whitehall Grant for Research on Neuropsychiatric Disorders

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(March 12, 2021) — Since joining Georgetown’s Department of Pharmacology & Physiology in January 2020, assistant professor Alexey Ostroumov, PhD, has focused on establishing his lab — an especially unique challenge in the midst of a pandemic. “I was lucky to have a great team during the last year that helped me to build the lab,” he said. “It was quite an unusual situation but we were able to set things up.”

Alexey Ostroumov portrait
Alexey Ostroumov, PhD

In recognition of his work, Ostroumov recently received an NIH career development award, an award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and a grant from the Whitehall Foundation to support his research on neuropsychiatric disorders.

“The hope of understanding things on the mechanistic level is that we can develop new therapies,” Ostroumov said. “If we understand what is happening at the level of neurons what is going wrong, hopefully we can provide tools to help bring it back to normal.”

‘The Brain Still Remains a Mystery for All of Us’

In addition to understanding how the brain works, Ostroumov is interested in learning how and why dysfunction develops in the brain. “The brain still remains a mystery for all of us,” he said. “It’s amazing how it works, how there are different levels of cognition and learning and memory, and how they work together. It’s especially amazing that the brain can produce all of this dysfunction.”

The growing number of people suffering from neuropsychiatric diseases make them a critical field for study. “We also see that more and more people get different neuropsychiatric disorders,” Ostroumov said. “It’s a really strong motivator to try to understand what is going on in the brain.”

With the Whitehall grant, Ostroumov will study the neurons that modulate dopamine pathways, a research topic that has implications for disorders including depression and substance use disorder. “We hope that by understanding how the dopamine pathway is regulated, we can understand what goes wrong in those diseases,” he said. 

‘The Collaborative Environment Made Georgetown Stand Out’

Initially interested in coming to Georgetown because of its reputation, Ostroumov was impressed by the collaborative and supportive nature of the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology. “Georgetown is a very prestigious school and provides everything for our research, but the collaborative environment made Georgetown stand out, the department and the whole scientific environment,” he said. 

Because of the pandemic, safety was a priority for Ostroumov as he set up his lab, and he minimized in-person interactions between colleagues in the lab and meetings to allow for social distancing.

“Of course the pandemic affected us, and there were some delays, but I would like to mention that Georgetown, and the department in particular, was extremely supportive during this time,” he said. “I could really feel how supporting young faculty was the priority this year. I could feel lots of help and support during this time.”

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications