Robert K. McNamara
Professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Robert McNamara is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, and Director of the Lipidomics Research Program, at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. McNamara heads a translational research program investigating the role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in the pathophysiology, etiology, and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. The preclinical component uses animal feeding models to manipulate n-3 PUFA biostatus during development to evaluate effects on brain structural and functional integrity. Using multimodal neuroimaging techniques, this research has revealed that n-3 PUFA insufficiency during development is associated with enduring perturbations in prefrontal glutamate homeostasis, reductions in forebrain white matter microstructural integrity, and altered neuroadaptative responses to treatment with psychotropic mediations including amphetamine and ketamine. Clinical studies also use multimodal neuroimaging techniques to investigate the role of n-3 PUFA in cortical structural and functional integrity in children and adolescents with and without psychiatric disorders. Cross-sectional and prospective n-3 PUFA supplementation studies suggest that lower n-3 PUFA biostatus is associated with reduced indices of cortical metabolic integrity, functional connectivity, and event-related cortical activation in typically developing children. Ongoing research is investigating the effects of n-3 PUFA supplementation on neuroadaptive changes in functional connectivity in adolescents with depression. The broader goal of this research is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the role of n-3 PUFA in normal and abnormal brain development to inform early prevention strategies for youth at increased risk for developing psychiatric illness.