Amal Alachkar Receives Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Pilot Program Award

Amal Alachkar, UCI Professor of Teaching in Pharmaceutical Sciences, is one of eight early-stage research project recipients to have been awarded UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Pilot Program grants for 2022.

Research projects were selected based on their potential to transform medicine by generating new insights into the mechanistic basis of integrative therapies or by producing evidence of their clinical outcomes. Each recipient received a one-year award of $25,000.

Alachkar’s research at the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, neural mechanisms of protective effects of acetyl-carnitine supplementation on trauma-induced depression, focuses on how and when biological mechanisms lead to trauma transmission from parents or even grandparents to children and how to mitigate the negative impacts on the mental health of children.

“We are investigating when, in a lifetime, pharmacological intervention with acetyl-carnitine can protect against depression induced by prenatal and early life stress,” says Alachkar. “We will also particularly study the molecular mechanisms of acetyl-L-carnitine anti-depressant effects.

“Our study is relevant at this moment in human history, as many pregnant women are exposed to stressful environments such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the unique features of ALCAR, this natural, safe, and low-cost supplement can be an innovative and unique preventive and therapeutic strategy, should it be administered at the right time of life.” 

The results of this pilot study will be immensely significant, as acetyl-L-carnitine has the potential to be transformative on healthcare provision to millions of people who suffer from major depression or have the risk of developing this disabling disorder, particularly those in which the depression arose from prenatal traumatic stress.

Pilot awards are funded by the UCI Susan and Henry Samueli Endowment to encourage early exploration of research ideas to address growing health challenges while adding to the evidence base for integrative health practices.

Congratulations to Dr. Alachkar and her fellow award recipients!

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