Presentation of the Column

Mood disorders and alcohol-/ substance use disorders are common and debilitating heterogeneous conditions associated with structural and functional abnormalities in reward-related brain structures such as the caudate-putamen, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. Cognitive deficits are observed in these disorders and play an important role in their course. The diathesis–stress model proposes that these disorders are all influenced by underlying genetic vulnerabilities that in combination with various stressors trigger the symptomatology.

Translational research has played a pivotal role in providing a circuit-level framework to explore the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of mood, reward, and cognition, enabling the identification of molecular treatment targets. Mood disorders and alcohol-/ substance use disorders today are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Despite this, the diagnoses are still solely symptom-based, and the conditions are underdiagnosed and undertreated. Furthermore, sex differences in prevalence, symptoms, and responses to treatment have been reported, underlining the complexity. Therefore, there is an unmet and urgent need for identifying biomarkers and for the development of novel rapid-acting stratified treatment strategies in these disorders.

In the “Mood and Reward” column, we will perform preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies as well as clinical intervention and imaging studies with the aim to elucidate cellular, molecular, and histological abnormalities underpinning mood, reward and their cognitive correlates. Hopefully, these activities can pave the way for identifying biomarkers and new treatment avenues such as new drug targets and psychosocial interventions for these devastating disorders.

Speakers of Column

Anders Fink-Jensen

Professor Anders Fink-Jensen

University of CopenhagenDepartment of Clinical Medicine

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Betina Elfving

Associate Professor Betina Elfving

University of AarhusDepartment of Clinical Medicine - Translational Neuropsychiatry Unit

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Members of the column


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Members of the column


Aalborg University

Aarhus University

Professor Jelena Radulovic

• Dandrite Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE) • Radulovic Group

About the Research

Please see our website.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Mapping and function of memory circuits responsive to stress

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Associate Professor Ole Köhler-Forsberg

• Psychosis Research Unit •

About the Research

Possibility to get experience from clinical drug trials, perform epidemiological studies (primarily within pharmacoepidemiology), and conduct systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses on psychotropic drugs

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Experience with clinical drug trials, data analysis (clinical, epidemiological, or meta-analyses)

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Neurodegenerative Diseases

Associate Professor Simon Gabriel Comerma Steffensen

• Department of Biomedicine •

About the Research

Our research focus is on Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Physiology related to endothelial function with ion channel modulation and a focus on potassium channels, one of the main techniques related to this is the model of erectile function (male or female). Erectile function depends on the good integration between the body functions of the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Erectile dysfunction in men is an indirect marker of endothelial dysfunction translatable in humans, therefore disease models of the nervous system (depression, Parkinson, etc), metabolic (obesity, diabetes, etc) and cardiovascular (atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc); are the main interest to assess their translatability and evaluate new treatments for human patients. Lately, We are interested in exploring more behavioral data and exploring the female side of cardiovascular endothelial disease. Besides the previous we have also a focus on monoamine reuptake inhibition since major depressive disorder affects worldwide 6% of the population yearly, this disease hugely affects sexual function for couples (irrespectively men and women), so we focus on mechanisms that will be related to these responses, and connected to my expertise, on full translatability and integral cardiovascular assessment of animal models where functional data from in vivo (ultrasound, electrocardiography) and in vitro isolated vascular techniques (organ bath, wire myography) are the strength at the Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Pharmacology Research Group at Aarhus University. Our endpoint is to promote a better quality of life for people with organic aging dysfunctions and/or diseases.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

To learn about the techniques that we have available and to understand more about animal models with pharmacological and physiological integral measurements.

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Associate Professor Mai Marie Holm

• Department of Biomedicine •

About the Research

Hippocampal synaptic transmission and plasticity, AMPA receptors, astrocytic modulation, rodent models of brain disorders, depression and the GABAergic system, excitatory-inhibitory imbalances

Two lab members

Ida Sneum Tvilling - Lab technician
Jonas Koustrup Oddershede - Master student

Lab rotation

The student will be trained in preparing acute brain sections from rodents to be used for in vitro electrophysiological analysis. Key methods; extracellular field recordings of hippocampal synapses and studies of synaptic transmission and plasticity.

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Neurodevelopment

Associate Professor Christine Parsons

Interacting Minds Center • Clinical Medicine • The New Parent Experience

About the Research

My research is on social and emotional functioning and sleep, particularly in the postnatal period.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

human experiments, data analysis, training on science communication

Secondary Column

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Associate Professor Dan Bang

• Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience •

About the Research

We study the neurobiological basis of decision-making and learning in humans. We use behavioural testing, computational modelling, functional MRI and electrochemical recordings of neuromodulatory systems in awake brain surgery patients.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Data analysis and computational modelling of sub-second estimates of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in the conscious human brain.

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Neurodegenerative Diseases

Associate Professor Sâmia Joca

• Biomedicine •

About the Research

We investigate the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders with the aim to identify novel treatment targets. We use different animal models, cell culture, mol. biology (qPCR, WB, Elisa), neurochemistry, confocal microscopy and pharmacological assays.

Two lab members

Nicole Rodrigues - Postdoc
Caroline Biojone - Postdoc

Lab rotation

Test drug effects in vivo (animal models of psychiatric disorders), in vitro (primary and iPS cell cultures) and ex vivo (qPCR, WB, Elisa, binding, immunofluorescence/microscopy))

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Neuroinflammation and Neuron-Glia Interactions

Associate Professor Steffen Sinning

• Dept. of Forensic Medicine •

About the Research

Molecular neuropharmacology – understanding the method of action of psychotropic drugs such as hallucinogens and antidepressants with their target (transporters and receptors). Special interest in studying the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Molecular biology (mutagenesis, DNA purification), mammalian cell culture, in vitro pharmacological and activity assays for receptors and transporters

Secondary Column

Associate Professor Betina Elfving

• Department of Clinical Medicine, TNU • Experimental and Molecular Psychiatry

About the Research

Identification of biomarkers and novel treatment strategies within mental disorders. Rodent models and human tissue are used to identify relevant mRNA/non-coding RNAs (real-time qPCR, Nanostring, ISH) and proteins (ELISA, Luminex, IHC).

Two lab members

Rolf Søkilde - Postdoc
Erik Kaadt - PhD student

Lab rotation

The student will be introduced to animal models of mental disorders and relevant molecular techniques investigating RNA and protein expression.

Secondary Column

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Professor Gregers Wegener

Aarhus University • Department of Clinical Medicine •

About the Research

Advanced in vivo modeling of Psychiatric disorders, behaviour, neurochemistry, stereology and viral vector techniques. Neuroinflammation. Dietary factors in mental health disease. Screening and mechanisms of new drug candidates.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Assess disease and drug effects in vivo (animal models of psychiatric disorders), in vitro (cell cultures) and ex vivo (qPCR, WB, Elisa, binding, microscopy)

Secondary Column

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Associate Professor Cecilie Bay-Richter

• Clinical Medicine • Translational Neuropsychiatry Unit

About the Research

Our overall aim is to improve the understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disease. We are specifically interested in the relationship between inflammatory processes and psychiatric disease with a view to develop alternative treat

Two lab members

Thor Schou - Master student
Eleonora Genovese - Erasmus Student

Lab rotation

Behavioural animal models, uHPLC, ELISA, IHC

Secondary Column

Neuroinflammation and Neuron-Glia Interactions

Professor Søren Dinesen Østergaard

• Aarhus University Hospital - Psychiatry • Machine learning

About the Research

In our research group we aim to develop clinical decision support tools for psychiatry using state-of-the-art machine learning methods. For more information, see: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34369330/

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Coding in Python/R in relation to machine learning

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

University of Copenhagen

Associate Professor Andrew Joseph Schork

Mental Health Center Sct. Hans • Institute of Biological Psychiatry (IBP) •

About the Research

Our group uses big data, computational methods, and principles of quantitative genetics to explore the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders.  We focus on unique Danish data resources – the extensive population registers and large population biobanks with genetic data.  Our research involves describing familial inheritance of psychiatric disorders, mapping risk genes and describing their potential neurobiological functions, and building gene- and family-based models to predict the onset and course of psychiatric disorders.  We have particular interest in understanding and modeling the polygenic architecture of psychiatric disorders, describing and predicting differences in patient outcomes, and in new or clever study design.  We work extremely collaboratively, including with international leading clinician scientists, basic neuroscientists, and human geneticists, even though our lab is computational in scope.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

We would eagerly accept rotation students who are interested computational projects in human psychiatric genetics.  Specific aims and topic are flexible and could include gene-mapping techniques (i.e., genome-wide association studies, GWAS), studies incorporating polygenic risk scores (PGS), heritability and genetic correlation analysis of genotype or family data, in hundreds of thousands of individuals.  Examples could be, mapping genes for subtypes of a disorder, modeling disorder onset in relation to a life event, describing the genetic relationships between disorders or disorder subtypes, etc. You will learn some coding and some data science and some quantitative genetics.  Expertise not necessary, but enthusiasm required!

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

Professor Claus Juul Løland

• Department of Neuroscience • Laboratory for Membrane Protein Dynamics

About the Research

We purify neurotransmitter transport proteins for structure-function studies. Use cryo-EM, fluorescence, nanodiscs, liposomes and molecular pharmacology e.g. binding sites for cocaine or novel compounds. You will join a fun and vibrant lab.

Two lab members

Iris Kalenderoglou - PhD student
Anders Nygaard - PhD student

Lab rotation

Protein expression and purification, binding and transport assays, mutagenesis, functional studies, scintillation proximity assay

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Associate Professor Oliver James Hulme

• Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance • Computational Neuroscience of Reward

About the Research

My lab investigates the brain’s reward system: how does it work, and why? We explore computational theories that constrain how it should work and then test the predictions of these theories against behavioural, hormonal, physiological, & neural data.

Two lab members

David Meder - Senior researcher
Simon Steinkamp - Postdoc

Lab rotation

Students visiting the reward group will learn how to build computational models of reward, and apply them to behavioral, physiological, and neuroimaging data.

Secondary Column

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Associate Professor Melanie Ganz-Benjaminsen

• Department of Computer Science •

About the Research

Application of medical image processing and machine learning to clinical medical image data & Open science and data sharing initiatives

Two lab members

Vincent Beliveau - Postdoc
Martin Nørgaard - Postdoc

Lab rotation

. Students will learn about using open science tools for data sharing, processing (preprocessing, segmentation, registration and statistical analysis) and publishing.

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

Assistant Professor Anna Mathia Klawonn

• Drug Design and Pharmacology • Circuits of Affective Neuroscience/Klawonn group

About the Research

The research in my group evolves around deciphering the immune-to-brain mechanisms and neural circuits of affective disorders. We are working on uncovering the mechanisms responsible for pathologies using state-of-the-art circuit techniques

Two lab members

Ourania Tzortzi - Postdoc
Sofie Let Frandsen - PhD student

Lab rotation

You will learn how to perform stereotaxic surgeries for optogenetics/DREADDs for exploring central neurocircuits of affective behaviors in mice and you will get to visualize the circuits using fluorescent immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy

Secondary Column

Associate Professor Patrick MacDonald Fisher

Rigshospitalet • Neurology • Neurobiology Research Unit

About the Research

I apply human functional (fMRI) and molecular (PET) brain imaging to map brain mechanisms of behavior and effects of pharmacological interventions. My research focuses largely on serotonin signaling, including acute/lasting effects of psychedelics.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

brain imaging data acquisition, processing, and analysis

Secondary Column

Brain Vasculature and Barriers

Associate Professor Gitta Wörtwein

Mental health services in the Capital Region of Denmark • Laboratory of Neuropsychiatry •

About the Research

Ethologically valid rodent behavioral models for psychiatric disorders to point at new druggable targets. Neuroplasticity and dopaminergic/muscarinergic interactions. Genetically modified rodents, viral vectors, neuropharmacology.

Two lab members

Anna Berezovskaia - PhD student
Anne-Marie Damgaard-Paulsen - Lab technician

Lab rotation

invivo rodent behavioural testing, brain microdissection, processing for histology (immuno- and insitu-hybridization)

Secondary Column

Associate Professor Rasmus Prætorius Clausen

• Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology •

About the Research

Development of neuroactive ligands. Drug design, organic synthesis, ligand development.

Two lab members

Davide Secci - Master student
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Lab rotation

Molecular modelling, design and/or synthesis of neuroactive ligands

Secondary Column

Motor and Pain Neuroscience

Associate Professor Kristi Anne Kohlmeier

• Drug Design and Pharmacology • Electrophysiology

About the Research

The research focuses on cellular actions of drugs of abuse in motivation and reward/arousal regions which are involved in assigning saliency to drugs which are abused, and which exhibit addictive properties. We use mouse models of addiction.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

The student will work with fluorescent live cell imaging from mouse brain slices, or immunohistochemical techniques in fixed samples of mouse tissue to elucidate the effects of drugs of abuse or agents used to control behavioral state.

Secondary Column

Brain Homeostasis and Brain-Body Interactions

Associate Professor Morgane Hermann Thomsen

Region Hovedstadens pyskiatri, and University of Copenhagen • Psychiatric Center Copenhagen • Laboratory of Neuropsychiatry

About the Research

I seek to understand changes that occur in alcohol and substance use disorder to identify and validate new pharmacotherapies. We currently work on muscarinic cholinergic, GLP-1, and ketogenic approaches

Two lab members

Simone Tonetto - PhD student
Cesar Leguizamon - Postdoc

Lab rotation

Hands-on rodent experiment, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, alcohol intake, brain extraction, experimental design, data analysis.

Secondary Column

Brain Homeostasis and Brain-Body Interactions

Associate Professor Vibe Gedsø Frøkjær

Psykiatrisk Center København og Neurobiologisk Froskningsenhed Rigshospitalet • Mental Health Services, Capital Region DK, and Dept. Neurology, Rigshospitalet • Imaging neuropsychiatry

About the Research

Brain architecture of risk and resilience for mood disorders and neurodegenerative disorders; particularly serotonergic and steroid hormone contributions. I use an integrated molecular imaging approach and work with clinical translations.

Two lab members

Vibeke Dam - Postdoc
Søren Larsen - PhD student

Lab rotation

Molecular, structural and functional brain imaging (PET, 3T MRI and fMRI), experimental medicine models of risk and resilience, pharmacological tool studies, randomized clinical trials, biomarkers, psychometrics, national health register outcomes.

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

Associate Professor Dea Siggaard Stenbæk

Rigshospitalet • Neurobiology Research Unit • Psychedelic Research Group

About the Research

I use neurophenomenology and psychometrics to study effects of classic psychedelic drugs, e.g., psilocybin and LSD. I furthermore develop and test psychological interventions for use during psychedelic therapy.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Human experiment and data analysis

Secondary Column

Associate Professor Matthew Paul Gillum

• NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research • Gillum

About the Research

Hepatic remote control of alcohol drinking; mass spectrometry, intersectional chemogenetics, metabolism, behavior

Two lab members

Louise Skov - Postdoc
Peter Aldiss - Postdoc

Lab rotation

chemogenetics, behavior, alcohol consumption, animal experiment

Secondary Column

Mood and Reward

Professor Jesper Kristensen

• Drug Design and Pharmacology •

About the Research

We develop and investigate the effects of new ligands targeting the 5-HT2AR receptor, the principal mediator of the subjective and therapeutic effects of Psychedelics. Primary focus on ligand design and synthesis.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Hands-on experimental work on the design, synthesis and characterisation of new ligands.

Secondary Column

Professor David E. Gloriam

• Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology • Gloriam gorup

About the Research

I do data-driven research and drug design on G protein-coupled receptors that mediate the effects of 2/3rd of hormones and 1/3rd of drugs. With a creative interdisciplinary approach we discover receptor systems and mechanisms for safer drugs.

Two lab members

Yashraj Kulkarni - Postdoc
Kay Schaller - Postdoc

Lab rotation

In my group, students will learn integrative structure-function analysis driven by data and design of drugs or functional probes based on computational methods.

Secondary Column

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Professor Anders A Jensen

• Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology •

About the Research

We develop novel modulators of neurotransmitter receptors, study the molecular basis for structure/function aspects of these receptors and for their modulation, and explore physiological functions of the receptors using the developed modulators.

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

radioling binding and functional assays, mutagenesis studies, electrophysiology, ligand development

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

Professor Kamilla Miskowiak

Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark • Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark • Neurocognition and Emotion in Affective Disorders (NEAD) Group

About the Research

The NEAD Group conducts clinical experimental studies in mood disorders using neurocognitive tests, clinical ratings and neuroimaging to identify novel treatments that reduce illness risk or target cognitive impairment and to explore their mechanisms

Two lab members

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Lab rotation

Hands-on neurocognitive testing, virtual reality assessments and training, funtional and structural neuroimaging assessments and analysis, statistical analysis of behavioural and neuroimaging data, clinical psychiatric ratings

Secondary Column

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Professor Poul Videbech

Mental Health Centre Glostrup • Center for Neuropsychiatric Research •

About the Research

Brain imaging and neuropsychological research of predictors of effect and adverse effects of Electroconvulsive treatment for severe depression

Two lab members

Krzysztof Gbyl - Assistant Professor
Christoffer Lundsgaard - PhD student

Lab rotation

Clinical interviews, MRI, neuropsychological testing in danish speaking patients

Secondary Column

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Professor Vinberg Maj

• Mental Health Centre North Zeeland • The Research Unit

About the Research

Two lab members

Rasmus Schwarz - PhD student
Jon Sperling - PhD student

Lab rotation

Secondary Column

Neurodevelopment

Professor Lars Vedel Kessing

• Psychiatric Center Copenhagen • Copenhagen Affective Disorder research Center (CADIC)

About the Research

Chair of the Copenhagen Affective Disorder research Center (CADIC). Dr. Scientific contributions within clinical, epidemiological including register-based, genetic and neurobiological research in bipolar and unipolar affective disorders.

Two lab members

Maria Fauerholt-Jepsen - Assistant Professor
Klara Coello - Postdoc

Lab rotation

Clinical research within affective disorders, phenomenology, biology, digital monitoring, randomised controlled trials

Secondary Column

Professor Ulrik Gether

• Department of Neuroscience • Molecular Neuropharmacology and Genetics Laboratory

About the Research

Molecular and cellular function of monoamine receptors and transporters; dopamine pharmacology and physiology; dopamine disease biology and genetics (substance use disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, parkinsonism)

Two lab members

Freja Herborg - Assistant Professor
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Lab rotation

Pharmacological assays, neuronal cultures, fluorescent imaging including super-resolution microscopy, viral expression techniques, fiber photometry/biosensors, optogenetics, chemogenetics

Secondary Column

Neurodegenerative Diseases

University of Southern Denmark

Associate Professor Mikael Palner

• Clinical Research • Palner Lab

About the Research

Rodent models of obsessive-compulsive disorder, analysis of rodent compulsive behaviors, reversal learning and stereotypic grooming, functional neuroimaging, neuronal circuits, and the actions of psychedelic and empathogenic drugs.

Two lab members

Frederik Gudmunsen - PhD student
Nicolaj Daugaard - PhD student

Lab rotation

All the way from in vivo viral transductions of neuronal circuits to compulsive behavior, functional neuroimaging and image analysis.

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