About Us

Conte Center Director John Mann
J. John Mann, M.D.
Director, Conte Center for Suicide Prevention

Welcome to the Silvio O. Conte Center for Suicide Prevention at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University.

The Center studies the causes of suicidal behavior. Understanding the causes of suicide is essential to the mission of reducing the suicide death toll, now at about one million deaths each year worldwide.

Center Focus

The Center seeks to determine how childhood adversity, neuroinflammation and genes interact to affect the risk for suicidal behavior throughout adulthood.

To study causes of suicide, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and scientists is using six different linked approaches:

1) Postmortem brain studies of childhood adversity and neuroinflammation in suicide decedents;

2) Mouse models of early life stress vs an enriched social environment related epigenetics and gene expression;

3) Relationships between serotonin breakdown, inflammatory activation of brain glial cells, and synaptic density using PET scanning in living patients who are at risk for suicidal behavior;

4) Testing the prediction that depression and suicide risk result in part from dysfunction in systems for emotional reactivity, regulation and memory using functional MRI;

5) Understanding how stress responses and emotion dysregulation relate to suicidal behavior; and

6) Statistical modeling of biological factors related to suicidal behavior.

The patients undergo brain scans and other evaluations of how they regulate their mood and also respond to stress in their everyday lives to determine what makes them vulnerable to suicide and what can be changed to make them more resilient.

Join Us in the Fight Against Suicide

We welcome your involvement, whether as a patient or healthy participant in one of our studies, as a researcher who wants to spend time learning how we study the neurobiology of this important cause of death or disability, or as a supporter who helps through philanthropy to accelerate the pace of this potentially life-saving research.

Click here to learn more about the enrollment process and our ongoing studies.