31 October 2023

Elisabeth Paul, PhD student at Linköping University, received a stipend of SEK 100 000 during Mental Health Evening 2023, organized by Fonden för Psykisk Hälsa. “To be recognized by such an important organization is a great honor,” she says.

Elisabeth Paul holds up her diploma.
Elisabeth Paul attended the Mental Health Evening 2023 in October in Stockholm, where the award ceremony took place.

Fonden för Psykisk Hälsa supports psychiatric research by funding projects of early career scientists. They further advocate for greater knowledge about psychiatric disorders in society to destigmatize them.

Childhood maltreatment and substance use disorder

Elisabeth Paul’s research project that received a stipend from Fonden för Psykisk Hälsa (funded with special support from Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhuset in Stockholm.) is called “The effects of acute stress on kynurenine metabolites in individuals with a history of childhood abuse with and without resilience to substance dependence.”

“Being recognized by such an important organization is a great honor and I am very much looking forward to start with the project,” says Elisabeth.

The research will assess the effects of acute stress on kynurenine metabolites in individuals with prospectively assessed childhood maltreatment resilient to substance use disorder.

In a huge study, at Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience (CSAN), they have collected behavioral and imaging data of young adults who were exposed to childhood maltreatment, some of whom did develop a substance use disorder and some who were resilient to that. This study has already resulted in the publication: Resilience to substance use disorder following childhood maltreatment: association with peripheral biomarkers of endocannabinoid function and neural indices of emotion regulation.

A hypothesis on kynurenine pathway and resilience

Within this study, Elisabeth is interested in how metabolites of the kynurenine pathway are potentially involved in resilience to substance use disorder. Some of the metabolites interact with glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is critical in the development and maintenance of substance use disorders.

“I will compare these proteins in resilient individuals and those who developed a substance use disorder at baseline, but also after a stress-task to see if stress-induced changes in the proteins may confer resilience to the development of a substance use disorder following childhood trauma”.

Mental Health Evening 2023 highlights the need for fast help

Elisabeth attended the Mental Health Evening 2023 in October in Stockholm, where the award ceremony took place.

“The evening was very nice. We were at Intiman, an old theater at Odenplan, so the atmosphere was very cozy. The program was filled with thought-provoking talks by speakers with diverse backgrounds. Speakers were psychiatrists, people who have themselves suffered from psychiatric disorders and their relatives, and police, presenting a broad range of aspects regarding mental ill-health. The program was eased-up by some music acts. During the break people got a chance to mingle and network with each other. The evening especially highlighted how critical fast help is for mental ill-health, and that hopefully in the future regular check-ins and prevention of psychiatric disorders will become standards in the health care system.”

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