Animal model-based depression research
Animal models of psychiatric disorders; neuroimmunonlogy, circadian dysregulations; early life adversities; epigenetic regulations; amygdala; hippocampus
Dr. Pollak is interested in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mental illnesses, specifically mood disorders, and the factors contributing to disease susceptibility and treatment responsivity. To this end, she is focusing on the molecular, cellular and systemic investigation of pertinent animal models, with special emphasis on behavioral analysis. Furthermore, Dr. Pollak´s lab is working on developing and characterizing new animal paradigms allowing to probe alternative hypotheses regarding the pathophysiological underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disorders and contributing to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
Collaborating research groups where PhD Students can perform their research stay
Timo Partonen, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, P.O. Box 30, FI-00271 Helsinki; Finland
Michael K. Georgieff, University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital
2450 Riverside Avenue; MB630 East Building, Minneapolis, MN 55454; USA
Know-how and infrastructure of the research group
Dr. Pollak was trained as neuroscientist and became an expert in animal behavior, especially animal models of psychiatric disorders, at the laboratory of Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University in New York. Here she established and firstly characterized the molecular characteristics of “Learned Safety”, an animal model for a behavioral intervention in depression (Pollak et al. Neuron 2008. Pollak et al. Nature Protocols 2010). Upon her return to Austria Dr. Pollak has built-up and is leading a research group currently consisting of three PhD Students, two postdoctoral researchers, one technician and one animal care take, exclusively dedicated to the maintenance of the experimental mice of the Pollak lab. Her group is focusing on the generation and neurobehavioral analysis of animal models of psychiatric disorders, with a special focus on the investigation of the relevance of the prenatal period and the circadian system, central to the PhD projects proposed within the framework of this CCHD application. Her group is situated at the Department of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology at the Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna where Dr. Pollak has set-up a state-of-the-art behavioral laboratory comprising equipment suitable for automated high-through-put analysis of behavioral phenotypes relevant to depression and control behavioral and neurological functions in mice. Recently, Dr. Pollak also implemented a small animal surgery unit providing a high-precision Stereotaxic Alignment System allowing to probe the living brain with an utmost degree of confidence. Within the Center for Physiology and Pharmacology advanced technology for all experiments using molecular biology techniques, protein-biochemical analysis and microscopy is available.