Our research objectives are to identify the molecular basis of mental illness. Epigenetics integrates genetic disease risk with environmental risk factors. Hence, neuroepigenetics provides a mechanism, by which environmental factors including diet and circadian rhythms can be adjusted in order to improve mental wellbeing. Specifically, our work investigates pathways which increase the resilience to chronic stress. Our team uses viral mediated gene transfer, chromatin based approaches such as ChIP, bisulfite and next generation sequencing as well as chromosome capture techniques. Furthermore chemogenetics, microinfusion, dendritic spine imaging and behavioral testing are employed to obtain a wellrounded, circuit wide understanding of underlying mechanisms.
Our lab found that a single dose of vitamin B12 has pro-resilience effects in mice and we are currently characterizing the underlying pathways. Furthermore, we described a caffeine-activated fast acting antidepressant pathway that involves a little known neuropeptide in the brain reward system.