Home Research Departments / Research Groups / Institutes Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Research Groups RG Animal Models in Psychiatry

RG Animal Models in Psychiatry


Registrar, Head of the Research Group

apl. Prof. Dr. Peter Gass

Phone: +49 621 1703-2931


Research and Administrative Building, 4th Floor, Room 412

Registrar, Working Group Manager (acting)

apl. Prof. Dr. Barbara Vollmayr

Phone: +49 621 1703-2912


Main Medical Building, 1st Floor, Room 118


Using translational research approaches, the Work Group Animal Models in Psychiatry has established and investigates rodent models of psychiatric disorders, with special focus on affective disorders (depression, anxiety), schizophrenia, cognition and social behaviors. Respective disorders are modeled by adverse environmental conditions (e.g. stress, early childhood traumata), targeted mutagenesis, genetic inbreeding or pharmacological challenges.

In recent years, main scientific findings of the group are molecular, biochemical and cellular mechanisms mediated by glucocorticoid and glutamate receptors in well-characterized behavioral models. The work group has also investigated systematically the effects of gene-environment-interactions (GxE) identifying genes that predispose to stress-induced behavioral phenotypes, and vice versa environmental conditions that promote stress resilience in genetic risk constellations. Furthermore, in our colony of congenital learned helpless rats, an animal model of treatment resistant depression, we have identified the lateral habenula nuclei as target for deep brain stimulation (DBS). The translational approach is also reflected by the fact that the 12-member team is led by two senior physicians (Peter Gass / Barbara Vollmayr) who also head respective wards in the psychiatric clinic. Moreover, the group’s postdoctoral scientists as well as the doctoral students are fifty-fifty biologists and physicians, the latter also working part time in the clinic. Thus, specific issues can be studied in patients as well as in corresponding animal models, whereby in the latter pathophysiological issues can be investigated more specifically than in humans due to the possibility of in vivo manipulation and post mortem brain analyses. 

Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit (ZI) - https://www.zi-mannheim.de