Identifying early pathophysiological changes associated with depression secondary to psychosocial and medical disorders.
Dr. Haroon's research is focused on understanding the neural basis of behavioral change in medically healthy and medically ill patients including patients with cancer. More specifically, his interests are focused on the mechanisms mediating the impact of the immune system on glial function as it relates to depression and fatigue. For his studies, Dr. Haroon uses Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to examine neurochemical changes involving CNS glutamate as well as white matter integrity using diffusion tensor imaging. Of note, prophylactic administration of glutamate blocking agents such as memantine have been shown to minimize cognitive symptoms resulting from radiation therapy for cancer. Consequently, he is studying the impact of cancer and its treatment on CNS glutamate and its relationship with treatment-related behavioral changes including depression and fatigue. Future studies will examine the use of glutamate-blocking drugs to reverse treatment.