Neurobiology of Mood Disorders, Suicide and Comorbidities

Leaders: Gabriella Gobbi, Linda Booij

The last decades have seen significant progress in our understanding of the neurobiological basis of mood and its abnormal states. Similarly, we have learned a great deal about the biological basis of suicidality and its diathesis.

Importantly, over the last few years, we have begun to learn how life events influence the brain and trigger molecular processes regulating the activity of our genome. These processes, collectively referred to as epigenetics, have allowed renewed dialogue between researchers from different disciplines and provided a theoretical framework to understand the interplay between the environment and the genome.

Over the last four years, our Réseau has supported work that made important contributions to our understanding of epigenetic factors increasing vulnerability to suicide. In addition to continue to support work exploring epigenetic mechanisms involved in mood disorders and suicide, our Réseau will investigate through the strategic priority on neurobiology a number of important questions arising from previously supported work, as well as new, currently relevant questions.

For instance, with the rapid development of new, brain-based treatment interventions in psychiatry, it is imperative to better understand the neural basis of mood disorders and suicidal behavior. The strategic initiative on the neurobiology of mood and suicide will profit from the availability of well-characterized brain tissue of the BB and a number of resources to conduct high-quality imaging studies to support work focused on the understanding of what are the anatomical correlates of pathological mood states and those associated with suicide and importantly, their overlaps and differences.

Another important avenue for research is the understanding of how substance facilitates acting on suicidal thoughts. We will support work using neurobiological approaches to investigate mechanisms whereby substance increases suicide risk.

Similarly, we will support work focusing on the morphology and connectivity of brain cells at the anatomical level using, in the living subject, appropriate and valid functional tasks in fMRI studies. We will also promote studies investigating molecular biomarkers of pathological mood states and using animal models of depression.