Institution: National Institute of Mental Health And Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India
National Institute of Mental Health And Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India
I did my post-graduation (MD in psychiatry) at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India. Immediately after this, I joined as a senior resident in the department of psychiatry at NIMHANS; this was the period when I started working in the specialty obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) clinic of NIMHANS (www.ocdclinic-nimhans.com). I was involved in the clinical care and management of patients suffering from OCD, a psychiatric illness resulting in significant disability. I later joined the department of psychiatry as a faculty and continued to work as a consultant in the OCD clinic. My experience working with and treating patients suffering from OCD for the past 8 years made me realize that a significant proportion of patients do not respond to conventional treatment options including the medications (medication group called the SSRIs and cognitive behavior therapy-CBT). My initial research work in OCD was based on examining the clinical characteristics and comorbidity related aspects. I was subsequently intrigued by neurobiology of OCD. The concept that brain circuitry and neural network abnormalities play a prominent role in the pathophysiology of OCD was extremely interesting & I started examining various neurobiological questions using brain imaging. Structural and functional correlates of various symptoms & brain basis of neurocognitive deficits were some of the themes which I have been working on. Since many patients with OCD do not respond to the “classical” treatment options, I conducted longitudinal studies examining the biological predictors of treatment response using neuroimaging and immune markers.
My present research focus is in examining novel treatment strategies for OCD. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an emerging safe and non-invasive treatment option in psychiatry. Modulation of brain plasticity appears to be an attractive way of “modifying” the “disorderly” brain regions/circuits. Our group reported the first time successful use of conventional tDCS in treating resistant OCD. High definition tDCS might offer a unique way to modulate the neural functions and it has immense potential in OCD. I hope to examine this with the funding support from the Wellcome Trust/DBT India alliance and infra-structure at the NIMHANS. My Wellcome trust-DBT India Alliance project aims to examine the potential of high definition tDCS in modulating the critical cognitive functions in OCD patients who have unsatisfactory response to the conventional medications. This will be comprehensively evaluated in our laboratory using brain imaging and electrophysiological assessments in a randomised blinded sham controlled design. The translational implications of the neuromodulation will be in the development of safe and effective “neurobiologically-informed” treatment methods for OCD.