Translational Psychiatry

Back row (from the left): David Slattery, Simon Waas, Front row: Aet O’Leary, Laura Pineda, Anna Yotova, Sophia Blum


The Group of Translational Psychiatry covers a wide range of methods focusing on the molecular neurobiology of psychiatric disorders. Our work group is centred on the neurobiology of stress-related disorders; with particular emphasis on neurodevelopmental, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders. We use, and develop, state-of-the-art behavioural, pharmacological and molecular approaches to gain a deeper understanding of their aetiology and uncover novel target systems, particularly by employing back-translational approaches. The latter is performed in collaboration with a number of the clinical workgroups within the department.

Particular focus areas include:

  • Neurobiology of aggressive behaviour and impulsivity
  • Role of neuropeptides in anxiety- and affective- disorders
  • Sex-differences in these research areas

Selected Current Projects:

  1. Assessing the role of the RNA binding protein RBFOX1 in psychiatric disorders using overexpression and knockout mouse lines
  2. Assessing the role of DIRAS2, a member of Ras GTPases, in psychiatric disorders using knockout mouse lines
  3. Assessing the role of SNorc in psychiatric disorders using knockout mouse lines
  4. Comorbidity between altered insulin signalling and Alzheimer’s disease (part of the H2020 PRIME consortium)

Group members:

  • David Slattery (group leader)
  • Aet O’Leary (senoir scientist)
  • Lena Grünewald (senior scientist)
  • Theresia Töpner (technical assistant)
  • Joyce Auer (technical assistant)
  • Sabine Stanzel (technical assistant)
  • Vanessa Beck (INS MSc student)
  • Vu Thao-Vi Dao (MD student)
  • Laura Pineda (visiting PhD student; Uni. of Bacelona)
  • Anna Yotova (PhD student, Main-Campus-doctus stipend)

Collaborations: 

Former members:

  • Gerdi Ansing (MSc student, University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
  • Sofia Blum (BSc student; now MSc student, University of Düsseldorf)
  • Dr Esin Candemir (now at University of Mainz)
  • Quinn Painter (INS MSc student; now at University of Colorado Medical School)
  • Max Rechberg (MSc student, University of Mainz; now PhD student at TU Kaiserslautern)
  • Zeynep Özdemir (MD student)
  • Diana Singh (MSc student, University of Mainz)
  • Simon Waas (BSc student; now INS MSc student)

Selected 10 publications (see David Slattery and Aet O’Leary homepages for full list):

  • Gururajan A, Cryan JF, Reif A, Slattery DA (accepted) The Future of Rodent Models in Depression Research Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
  • Martinetz S, Meinung CP, Jurek B, von Schack D, van den Burg EH, Slattery DA#, Neumann ID# (2019) De Novo Protein Synthesis Mediated by the Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Is Required for the Anxiolytic Effect of Oxytocin. Biological Psychiatry 85:802-811.
  • Schmidtner A, Slattery DA, Gläsner J, Hiergeist A, Gryksa K, Malik V, Hellmann J, Heuser I, Baghai T, Gessner A, Rupprecht R, Di Benedetto B, Neumann ID (2019) Minocycline alters behavior, microglia and the gut microbiome in a trait-anxiety-dependent manner. Translational Psychiatry 9(1):223.
  • O'Leary A, Laas K, Vaht M, Kiive E, Veidebaum T, Reif A, Harro J. (2019) Nitric oxide synthase genotype interacts with stressful life events to increase aggression in male subjects in a population-representative sample. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.07.241.
  • Mortimer N, Ganster T, O’Leary A, Popp S, Freudenberg F, Reif A, Soler Artigas M, Ribases M, Ramos-Quiroga JA, Lesch KP, Rivero O. (2019) Dissociation of impulsivity and aggression in mice deficient for the ADHD risk gene Adgrl3: Evidence for dopamine transporter dysregulation. Neuropharmacol 156:107557
  • Candemir E, Post A, Dischinger US, Palme R, Slattery DA, O'Leary A, Reif A (2019) Limited effects of early life manipulations on sex-specific gene expression and behavior in adulthood. Behav Brain Res. 369:111927
  • Freudenberg F, O'Leary A, Aguiar DC, Slattery DA (2018) Challenges with modelling anxiety disorders: a possible hindrance for drug discovery. Expert Opin Drug Discov 13: 279-281.
  • Neumann ID, Slattery DA (2016) Oxytocin in General Anxiety and Social Fear: A Translational Approach. Biological Psychiatry 79:213-221.
  • Slattery DA, Naik RR, Grund T, Yen YC, Sartori SB, Fuchsl A, Finger BC, Elfving B, Nordemann U, Guerrini R, Calo G, Wegener G, Mathe AA, Singewald N, Czibere L, Landgraf R, Neumann ID (2015) Selective breeding for high anxiety introduces a synonymous SNP that increases neuropeptide S receptor activity. Journal of Neuroscience 35:4599-4613.
  • Toth I, Neumann ID, Slattery DA (2012) Social fear conditioning: a novel and specific animal model to study social anxiety disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 37:1433-1443.