Genes and environment interact to shape the risk for mental illness.
- Ageing is a part life. Many mental illnesses, including depression and dementia, are aggravated by ageing, yet the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and thus a major focus of our research. Stress, nutrition, ageing and genetic predisposition all influence the risk of suffering from depression.
- All organisms evolved in a 24h rhythm of light and darkness. Circadian rhythm disruptions contribute to psychiatric problems and are associated with ageing, mood disorders and drug abuse.
We explore how environmental factors including diet, age, psychostimulant drugs and circadian factors interact on the molecular level to shape the risk for mental illnesses. Combining next generation sequencing approaches, CRISPR-epigenome editing viral mediated gene transfer and chromatin looping with 3D-dendritic spine analysis and behavioral animal models, we reveal novel pathways that link genes, behavior and the environment. Our findings may ultimately benefit better treatments for mental illnesses such as depression and dementia.