Zubin Bhagwagar MBBS, MD, DPhil, MRCPsych

Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Psychiatry

Research Interests

Affective Disorders; Magnetic Resonance; Neurobiology; Neuroimaging; Neuropsychiatry; Neuroscience; Psychiatry; Psychopharmacology; Resonance Spectroscopy


Research Summary

My main area of interest is to understand vulnerability to mood disorders. A conceptual difficulty with studies of patients who are in an acute episode of mood disturbance is that any neurobiological changes seen may be epiphenomena of the acute illness and its treatment, rather than of true pathophysiological significance. I have therefore tried to develop a complementary strategy, namely to study fully recovered, medication-free euthymic subjects with a history of recurrent depression. The identification of biological dysfunction in these subjects could help identify biological markers which are responsible for trait vulnerability to recurrent illness. Identification in previously depressed patients of trait biological markers which exist independently of the illness state and medication will be an important step in understanding neurobiological vulnerability to the disorder. This could lead to better methods of identifying those at risk and thus to appropriate intervention strategies.

The development of novel therapeutic modalities in the field of mood disorders is the thrust of my clinical work. I have started a Bipolar Research Clinic based at the Ribicoff Facilities and we are currently involved in clinical trials of existing and novel compounds in the treatment of bipolar disorder. The combination of clinical and research interests as above will provide residents/fellows with an all round experience in ]clinical and academic psychiatry.


Selected Publications

  • Abnormal prefrontal activity subserving attentional control of emotion in remitted depressed patients during a working memory task with emotional distracters. Kerestes R, Ladouceur CD, Meda S, Nathan PJ, Blumberg HP, Maloney K, Ruf B, Saricicek A, Pearlson GD, Bhagwagar Z, Phillips ML. Psychol Med. 2012 Jan;42(1):29-40. Epub 2011 Jul 7. PMID: 21733287 [PubMed - in process]
  • Levetiracetam in the management of bipolar depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Saricicek A, Maloney K, Muralidharan A, Ruf B, Blumberg HP, Sanacora G, Lorberg B, Pittman B, Bhagwagar Z. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Jun;72(6):744-50. Epub 2010 Oct 19. PMID: 21034692 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  • Beech RD, Lowthert L, Leffert JJ, Mason PN, Taylor MM, Umlauf S, Lin A, Lee JY, Maloney K, Muralidharan A, Lorberg B, Zhao H, Newton SS, Mane S, Epperson CN, Sinha R, Blumberg H, Bhagwagar Z. 2010 Increased peripheral blood expression of electron transport chain genes in bipolar depression. Bipolar Disord. 2010 Dec;12(8):813-24.
  • Taylor MJ, Sen S, Bhagwagar Z. 2010 Antidepressant response and the serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region. Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Sep 15;68(6):536-43.
  • Golomb JD, McDavitt JR, Ruf BM, Chen JI, Saricicek A, Maloney KH, Hu J, Chun MM, Bhagwagar Z. Enhanced visual motion perception in major depressive disorder. J Neurosci. 2009 Jul 15;29(28):9072-7.

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