UCSF's Bartley named an HHMI Hanna Gray Fellow

By Nicholas Roznovsky

Bartley in a lab

UCSF Psychiatry researchers Christopher Bartley, MD, PhD, is one of the 15 new HHMI Hanna Gray Fellows for 2019. [Photo: Peter Barreras/HHMI]

UC San Francisco postdoctoral researcher Christopher Bartley, MD, PhD, has been named as one of this year's Hanna Gray Fellows by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The program, now in its third year, gives outstanding scientists the freedom to follow their curiosity during the early years of their careers and pursue challenging scientific questions at the forefront of their fields.

Bartley is eligible to receive up to $1.4 million over eight years as part of the fellowship to continue his research on autoantibody discovery in neuropsychiatric behavioral syndromes. While completing his psychiatric residency training at UCSF, he worked closely with mentors Samuel Pleasure, MD, PhD, and Michael R. Wilson, MD, both from the UCSF Department of Neurology, to study how antibodies produced by the human immune system can trigger psychiatric symptoms when they mistakenly target the brain instead of infectious microbes. With the support provided by HHMI, Bartley plans to analyze samples from hundreds of individuals with schizophrenia in hopes of discovering new misdirected antibodies that can provide further insight into this process. The work could ultimately lead to new targets for psychiatric drugs.

Earlier this year, Bartley was selected to receive an A.P. Giannini Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and Career Development Award and a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellowship, and was also named as a UCSF Watson Faculty Scholar. He will begin a faculty appointment with the Department of Psychiatry in October.

Fellow UCSF researcher Jess Sheu-Gruttadauria, PhD, from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology was also named a 2019 Hanna Gray Fellow, making UCSF only one of two institutions to place multiple researchers in the new class of fellows.

Fellowship recognizes the value of diversity in science

“HHMI is committed to supporting people who will solve some of the greatest problems in science,” says Erin O’Shea, the president of HHMI. “To do this, we need people from all backgrounds – the best solutions will be found by a diverse set of people.”

The Hanna Gray Fellows come from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences. These scientists are poised to make significant contributions to science in the years to come, O’Shea says, and are all original thinkers with diverse perspectives. HHMI will support these young scientists at a critical time in their academic careers – when they transition from postdocs to principal investigators and begin to set up labs of their own.

The program provides opportunities for career development, including mentoring and networking with others in the HHMI scientific community. Fellows will also attend an HHMI science meeting each year. This year’s 15 new fellows join the 30 Hanna Gray Fellows selected in 2017 and 2018, during the program’s first two years.

The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program is named for Hanna Holborn Gray, former chair of the HHMI trustees and former president of the University of Chicago. Under Gray’s leadership, HHMI developed initiatives that foster diversity in science education. HHMI continues to carry forward this work on college and university campuses across the United States.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry, UCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and Laurel Heights, UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, and UCSF Fresno.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments—Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurological Surgery—that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise.

It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians, and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the San Francisco VA Medical Center.