The focus of our research group is to generate and characterize clinically relevant animal models of inborn (trait) emotionality and stress reactivity.

We aim to elucidate neurobiological, endocrine and molecular-genetic mechanisms underlying behavioural, physiological and neurobiological changes in affective disorders such as major depression. It is only with deep insight into these mechanisms that novel treatment strategies and promising targets for therapeutic interventions can be developed in the future. Such in-depth understanding is ultimately essential to realizing our goal of predictive, preventive and personalized medicine.

The spectrum of our research includes projects at the genetic, proteomic and systemic level. We apply a wide variety of behavioural tests assessing emotionality, stress-coping and cognitive functions along with neuroendocrine approaches to analyze neuropeptides and proteins involved in the activity and regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Furthermore, we use paradigms addressing the interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental influences such as exposure to early life stress, shedding light on the epigenetic modification of gene expression, behavioural traits and neurobiological endophenotypes.