Each Tuesday, the Daily Voice features a first-person narrative from a researcher explaining the science behind a recent grant, and the inspiration or impetus behind becoming a scientist at UMass Medical School. If you know of a researcher you’d like to see profiled, send an email toUMMScommunications@umassmed.edu.
Constance M. Moore, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, received a National Institute of Mental Health grant for Glutamine and Glutamate in Children and Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder, one year $346,696; recommended for two additional years, $637,556.
In general, my research is about using imaging techniques (in particular MRI) to measure brain chemistry. My primary area of interest is in studying mood disorders, with a focus on mood disorders in children and adolescents. I hope to gain insight into how brain chemistry changes with brain development; the affects of medication on cerebral metabolism and how cognition and mood may be affected by different metabolite concentrations.
As a small child, I was always intrigued by science: I would see my reflection in the cup of a spoon was upside down—why? Most of my childhood was spent asking “Why?” When I entered secondary school and started to study physics I began to get answers, but just enough to keep me intrigued and wanting to know more. This led me to acquire an undergraduate degree in experimental physics and mathematics. From there I went to a master’s in laser physics, which seemed at the time a natural progression.
However, while studying for my master’s, I began to wonder about whether or not I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing laser research. I wasn't enjoying what I was doing and the work seemed unimportant. After a lot of thought, I decided to switch fields and to become involved in medical physics. I believed that this combined my love of physics and problem solving with what I felt would be more rewarding research. This interest led me to the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin, which at the time was the only site in Ireland to have a clinical MR scanner; there I completed PhD research using the newly developed technique of in vivo (localized, water suppressed) proton NMR spectroscopy (MRS) to investigate cerebral metabolism in schizophrenia.
I came to UMMS in order to take up a position as associate director for Translation Imaging at the Center for Comparative Neuroimaging. Having spent the last 21 years of my career studying humans, I was delighted with the opportunity to develop animal models of the human conditions I am interested in studying. During my visits to UMMS, I was also very impressed by the collegiality of the faculty and the high caliber of the graduate students. Having an opportunity to mentor and teach was another reason for my move to UMMS.
The most exciting thing about my work is analyzing data and trying to figure out what it all means. I enjoy interacting with mentees and students and seeing new people get as excited about research as I am.