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Neuropsychopharmacology Research Unit

Christina Dalla, Assistant Prof. of Pharmacology - Psychopharmacology



Nikolaos Kokras, MD, MSc,PhD in Psychopharmacology, Psychiatrist, Post-doctoral associate

Nikolaos Pastromas, MSc,PhD in Psychopharmacology, Veterinarian

Elias Papalias, MD, Psychiatrist, PhD candidate


History and Achievements

The Neuropsychopharmacology group has extensive experience in behavioral, pharmacological and neurochemical studies in animal models of stress, depression, anxiety, cognition and drug abuse.  Mainly, we focus on sex differences and the validation of animal models for both male and female rodents. Also, we are interested in the pharmacological screening of new molecules with CNS-acting potential. The Psychopharmacology group was established two decades ago by the late Emeritus Prof. Z. Papadopoulou-Daifoti with the participation of the late Professor C. Spyraki and Associate Prof. of Pharmacology at the University of Ioannina Dr. K. Antoniou. The group is currently led by Assistant Professor of Psychopharmacology Dr. Christina Dalla. The group has been awarded with several research grants and fellowships from the European Union (Marie Curie), the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), the National State Scholarship Foundation (IKY), as well as the General Secretariat of Research and Technology in Greece.


Research Interests and Goals

Overall, our research focuses on the understanding of the neurobiological basis of disease and the identification of novel treatments, considering gender and the varying hormonal status of males and females as important factors. We focus on depression and Alzheimer’s disease using stress animal models(i.e. the chronic mild stress and the forced swim test), as well as genetic models (e.g. 3xTg mice). In these models, we use behavioral, neurochemical (monoamines and aminoacids), molecular (Western blot analysis) and endocrinological approaches with a main interest in identifying sex differences. We have found that male and female animals have a differential response in antidepressants. Our current and future projects include the study of neurosteroids, such as neuroestrogens, with a particular focus on the hippocampal-prefrontal cortex circuit. Lately, the group through collaborations with the clinic, has expanded its studies in sex differences in stress and drug response in humans.


Research Infrastructure

The available infrastructure consists of behavioral apparatuses (i.e. automated activity boxes, forced swim test, elevated plus maze, light-dark boxes, hole-board, hot plate, fear conditioning and startle) and cameras. There are also three HPLC systems with electrochemical detectors and UV, optic microscopes, a cryotome and a microtome, two stereotaxic surgery apparatus, two in vivo microdialysis systems, Western blot apparatuses and standard laboratory equipment.


Research collaborations

The neuropsychopharmacology group has established collaborations with the research groups of Dr. C. Cornil at the University of Liege in Belgium, Dr. Jodi Pawluski, INSERM, France, with Dr. M. Filiou (joint IKYDAD grant) andDr. O.F.X. Almeida at the Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck, Munich, Germany and the research groups of Prof. N. Sousa at the Life and Health Science Research Institute (ICVS), University of Minho in Portugal (IBRO grant). Other collaborations include the Assoc. Prof. Katerina Antoniou (Dep. of Pharmacology, Medical School of Ioannina), the group of Prof. A. Gravanis and Ass. Prof. I. Charalampopoulos (Dep. Pharmacology, Medical School, University of Crete), the First Psychiatric Clinic of the Medical School in Athens(Liaison Psychiatry Service, Ass. Prof. A. Kouzoupis), the group of Prof. L. Skaltsounis (Pharmacy School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)and Assoc. Prof. A. Tsarbopoulos (Dep. of Pharmacology, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Cooperation grant 2012-15, TREAT-AD).

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