Dr. Rajiv P. Sharma is a Research Professor of Psychiatry. Over the past 30 years, he has examined multiple aspects of the schizophrenia illness, including clinical presentations, biochemical studies (hormones, immune molecules, monoamine metabolites, neuropeptides), as well as molecular studies in living subjects, postmortem brain samples, and cell studies. His research is funded by NIH. He is currently focusing on the dissection of epigenetic gene regulation in schizophrenia, pertaining to immune function, cognition, treatment response.
Dr Rajiv Sharma completed his medical school at Osmania University in the historic south- central Indian city of Hyderabad. He completed his Psychiatric Residency at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. During his residency, he was extensively trained in psychoanalytic theory/practice as well as phenomenology. He has trained in population/psychiatric genetics at the NIMH. In addition, he is formally trained in applied mathematics.
His career is focused on the major psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. During the first phase of his scientific investigations he published a stream of neurochemical findings in psychiatric patients. These include the characterization of catecholamine metabolites (HVA, 5HIAA, MHPG, phenylacetic acid), neurohormones (cortisol, Growth hormone, prolactin), and neuropeptides (neurotensin, somatostatin, TRH). He also conducted the first study of 1H NMR (proton spectroscopy) in the human brain, and formulated the role or presynaptic 5Ht1A sertonergic receptors in the expression of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, especially as a mechanism for the unique effects of clozapine. With regards to therapeutic interventions, he has directly tested the GABA schizophrenia hypothesis with the GABA transport inhibitor tiagabine.
The second phase of his career started with a total retooling in the cellular experimental laboratory. Under the mentorship of the late Dr Erminio Costa and in the laboratory of Dr Dennis Grayson, and funded by a KO1 NIMH training grant, he established new methods to study epigenetic mechanisms in psychiatric disease. These include the earliest reports describing a resistant type of chromatin in both the peripheral blood and postmortem brain samples of patients with schizophrenia. His lab is funded by the NIH to study restrictive chromatin formation, to measure it’s responsivity to pharmacological intervention, and to characterize its distribution across the genome in postmortem brain tissue. He is exploring the role of epigenetics in quasi-embryological routines such as the formation of adipose tissue in schizophrenia, and extending these theoretical considerations into the area of regenerative neurobiology.
Dr. Sharma has received numerous awards for his scientific activities, as well as teaching awards at the university level. He has been multiply funded by the NIMH. He has received investigator initiated grants, and also conducted clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry. He has authored/coauthored over a 100 peer reviewed publications. He is an adhoc reviewer for the NIH, for the French National Research agency, and is a reviewer on more than 30 neuroscience and psychiatric journals. He has a long list of trainees, medical students, residents, junior faculty, graduate students and postdocs to whose research careers he has contributed.