About the Conte Center

The Conte Center for Neuroscience of Mental Disorders at Washington University School of Medicine is dedicated to the study of schizophrenia. It was established in 2001 with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health as one of 15 such centers nationwide.

Conte Centers are named for Silvio Conte, former congressmen from Massachusetts and a key organizer in the “Decade of the Brain” effort in the 1990s. Conte Centers are the NIMH’s most important programs. These centers are multidisciplinary, using the fields of psychiatry, psychology, radiology, and basic neuroscience. They perform translational research, meaning they take what they learn from research and apply this knowledge to medical practice.

Our Focus

Research at the Conte Center at Washington University investigates the idea that schizophrenia is a result of genetic and environmental influences that alter the structure and function of the brain. The major goal of the Conte Center is to improve understanding of the underlying causes of schizophrenia, especially during its earliest phases. The Conte Center's research looks at genetics, brain structure, brain function, neurodevelopment and neurocircuits.

Potential Societal Impact

What makes this research so exciting? The answer lies in our goals. Through our research we hope:

  • to improve our understanding of the causes of schizophrenia
  • to learn more about size and shape differences in peoples’ brains,
  • and to learn more about how the mind and brain work and how they contribute to individuals developing or not developing psychiatric illnesses.

This knowledge could bring about earlier intervention and treatment of schizophrenia, which ultimately could mean better outcomes.

Washington University School of Medicine