Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series



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The pharmaceutical industry is approaching unsustainable research costs to develop new drug therapies for mental disease because of the high failure rate in clinical trials. These failures are due to limitations of pre-clinical studies in animal models that fail to predict the efficacy of new drugs in human subjects. The gap between pre-clinical trials and clinical trials is particularly difficult in complex mental diseases such as schizophrenia because of the complex dynamics of the brain and the multiple chemical pathways that drugs can affect.

However, many biological mechanisms associated with schizophrenia are now understood, and computational power and methods have reached the point for practical modeling of pathologies of schizophrenia. Numerical models can combine the information from animal studies of brain circuitry with data from human clinical trials of drug actions. Furthermore, complex interactions of multiple receptor targets can be predicted by a biophysical model of brain function. This presentation will introduce numerical models of neuronal microcircuitry that are associated with symptoms of schizophrenia. The emphasis will be on the dynamics of these neural systems and how their dynamics are modified by antipsychotic drugs. Unlike the current state-of-the-art methods of estimating therapeutic efficacy, the computational platform yields a significant increase in the predictive correlation with data from clinical trials.

Biographical Information

Dr. Roberts received his BA in physics at Reed College ('83) and his PhD in elementary particle physics and Gothenburg University in Sweden. Since completing his PhD in 1993, he has focussed on neuroscience research in both academia and industry on projects ranging from electrosensory processing in electric fish to pharmaceutical research for mental illness. He is presently employed at In Silico Biosciences and holds adjunct positions in Biomedical Engineering at Oregon Health & Sciences University and in the Systems Science Program at Portland State University.


Schizophrenia -- Etiology, Computational neuroscience, Drug development, Pharmaceutical industry, System theory, Neurobiology -- Mathematical models


Pharmaceutics and Drug Design | Psychiatric and Mental Health

Persistent Identifier

Computational Pharmacology: Simulating Circuits of the Brain for Drug Development