Even though presented results speak for themselves, applications for grant money to conduct this research on larger scale was denied by NIH and some other funding agencies four times in a row in 1992 and 1994.
To show more evidence of how it worked (or, rather, how it did not work), I would like to present a quote from page 3 of the “Summary Statement” regarding one of these grant applications dated March, 1992:
“Third, a further limitation comes from the relative nature of two of the morphometric variables selected, namely area or volume fraction and numerical density. Both of these variables are affected not only by the differences in t he immunostaned neuronal size and number but also by any differential tissue volume changes whether antemortem or postmortem. Furthermore, the numerical density of immunostained neurons is affected not only by differences in number but also by immunostained area size and shape differences. Both of these limitations make the interpretation of any results in terms of actual neurons highly questionable.” (Chair of the review Committee – J.M.Musacchio, MD, SRA – R.E.Martenson, Ph.D.)
Why these people decided that actual neuronal number was even necessary to consider is still impossible to understand. I personally think that they had no idea what they were talking about. Obviously, 25 years ago automatic image processing was very poorly understood, and even today people have problems with stereological data (see “GLI story”). The grant was given 315 priority score, with no chance to be funded. So, due to the lack of funding I had to stop my research in early 1995 and leave Mount Sinai to pursue other opportunities in industrial areas.
As far as I know, the fact of PV-immunoreactve subpopulation deficit was reported four years later by some group in Japan. However, systematic large-scale evaluation of cytoarchitectonic differences in human neocortex in schizophrenia using automatic image analysis technology was never implemented till present time.
It is useless to say, that the grant money was awarded to a guy who proposed to manually outline 100 neurons per sample, and to do basically the same research in a different brain region. I followed his results, which were zero.
Is it not a great example of how bureaucracy, for quite poorly specified reason, is capable to stop a pioneering research and obliterate the opportunity for the progress in an important area of science? Never mind: as you see, I continue this research now, on a smaller scale, of course. Better late than never…