By Barbara K. Lipska
March 12, 2016
As the director of the human brain bank at the National Institute of Mental Health, I am surrounded by brains, some floating in jars of formalin and others icebound in freezers.
As part of my work, I cut these brains into tiny pieces and study their molecular and genetic structure. My specialty is schizophrenia, a devastating disease that often makes it difficult for the patient to discern what is real and what is not. I examine the brains of people with schizophrenia whose suffering was so acute that they committed suicide. I had always done my work with great passion, but I don't think I really understood what was at stake until my own brain stopped working.