RESEARCH TEAM / INSTITUTE EXCELLENCE
THE ROLE OF GENDER IN EMOTIONAL DISORDERS & IN THE RESPONSE TO DRUGS
Each year in Europe, emotional disorders affect more than 30.3 million people (ECNP / ECB report) from whom 2/3 of sufferers are women. Although the social and cultural factors contribute significantly to it, the differences of the neurobiological substrate of both sexes appears to play an equally important role.
Research in Neuroscience sets the basis for the discovery of new treatments as far as disorders, for which there is no adequate therapy yet, are concerned. During the last decade, the research of the Laboratory of Pharmacology of the University of Athens has focused on the pathophysiology of depression as well as on the responsiveness to the antidepressant treatment, with emphasis on sex differences.
Christina Dalla, Lecturer of Pharmacology and team member of the Laboratory of Pharmacology, won in 2008 the Greek L'OREAL-UNESCO Award For Women in Science, for her research activity in the different responses to stress and mental disorders, such as depression, between the male and the female brain.
Understanding the complexity of the brain
Dr. Dalla's research focuses on sex differences in stress models and depression in male and female rats. Animal experiments play a crucial role and help us understand how the human brain works and how they contribute to treating diseases of the Central Nervous System.
In the framework of these experiments, it has been observed that after drug administration in rats, with activity to their nervous system, the female laboratory animals react differently to stress than males. At the same time, the findings from the study of behavior have been associated with neurobiological markers in different areas of the brain.
The serotonin neurotransmitter constitutes such a marker along with the generation of new nerve cells in certain regions of the adult brain, such as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain and is one of the most studied areas involved in functions, such as learning, memory and emotion.
The emerging findings from the corresponding research are useful for the clarification of the neurobiological substrate of depression and they create the foundation for improving antidepressant treatment based on gender.
FP6, “Marie Curie Fellowships, SBN 2008
The Greek L’Oreal-Unesco Awards: “Women in Sciences” 2008
Dr. Christina Dalla, with Professor Z. Papadopoulou-Daifoti as the scientific responsible, received a Marie Curie fellowship from the European Union (total funding -210 000 euros, 2007-2010) for conducting experiments at Rutgers University of New Jersey and the Laboratory of Pharmacology, School of Medicine of the University of Athens. The research findings were also awarded a prize at the conference of the Society of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.
In 2008 Dr. Christina Dalla excelled for her research, and won the L’Oreal-Unesco award for young, Greek, female researchers.