RP1 Experimental Neurobiology

Research of Neurobiology of Ageing, Addictions and Serious Mental Disorders (NESTAR)

Head of the department
Viktorie Holdová (research coordinator / assistant)
telephone:(+420) 283 088 245


The Department of Experimental Neurobiology (or Research Programme 1, RP1) is an integral part of the National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic. It is a modern, multidisciplinary and international research organisation, which amalgamates six large groups comprised of senior and junior investigators, postgraduate and undergraduate students alongside an efficient team of administrative support. The department maintains a highly dynamic and inquisitive environment and fosters a spirit of excellence and collaborative research between biologists, psychologists, physicists, biochemists, neuroscientists, programmers and medical doctors.

It comprises state-of-the-art laboratories equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation and tools compatible with a wide range of biomedical research. Given the aim of elucidating the molecular and cellular bases of brain aging, neurodegenerative and psychiatric disease, the portfolio of RP1 includes research facilities for cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, neurophysiological and pharmacological research, as well as behavioural studies. It also contains modern histology and immunohistochemistry units equipped with top of the range epifluorescence and confocal imaging systems, as well as modern tissue culture and viral research laboratories.

Investigation involving experimental animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia and a range of other neuropsychiatric diseases is a major part of ongoing projects, supported by a modern bio-resources unit, where animal models are generated and maintained. The functional neurophysiological read-outs from single neurones and population activity profiles from neuronal networks are routinely acquired in animals representing different physiological contexts and behavioural states. Combined with optogenetic stimulation and calcium imaging, which are currently under development in RP1, these measurements enable the elucidation of changes in brain activity affected by neurological and psychiatric disease. In parallel, behavioural tests such as the Morris water maze, fear conditioning and open field arenas are applied for real-time monitoring of animal behaviour relative to altered neuronal processes.

The specific nature and interdisciplinary stance of neurobiological research applied here involves the coordinated efforts of a large team of researchers and managers, to improve the understanding and treatment of brain and mind disorders, and to facilitate public awareness and acceptance of issues related to psychiatric disease. As a vibrant and progressive research organisation, RP1 promotes quality and creativity, to enhance discovery alongside medical translation, bolstered by its strong commitment to teaching and collaborations on both a national and international scale. 

Neuropsychiatric research is going through very exciting times and the Department of Experimental Neurobiology is an inspiring place to be. We are looking for talented researchers and neuroscience enthusiasts to join our strong team, to make an impact and bring knowledge plus understanding to the pain and suffering inflicted by neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease.



News and media

> January 6, 2021:  Science Magazine interviews Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian and highlights our research on targeted delivery of therapeutic genes to CNS in News and Views. Here the link to the full article: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/01/new-strategy-fight-world-s-most-potent-poison-passes-first-tests-animals

> November 10, 2020: Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian receives a prestigious JPND European Union grant on Parkinson's Disease Research. This is a large multinational project involving the National Institute of Mental Health Czechia, Ludwig Maximillian's University in Munich Germany, University Hospitals of Toronto Canada, Fraunhofer IBTM in Salzbach Germany, and Technical University of Istanbul Turkey. The consortium aims at developing new methods for noninvasive deep brain stimulation. Prof. Ovsepian is the Coordinator of the initiative. For further information visit: https://www.neurodegenerationresearch.eu/initiatives/annual-calls-for-proposals/closed-calls/open-calls/novel-imaging-and-brain-stimulation-methods-and-technologies/   

> September 16, 2020: The Director of the Experimental Neurobiology Program Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian has been appointed as an Associate Editor of the Springer journal Brain Structure and Function (https://www.springer.com/journal/429/editors). In this role, he will be taking part in developing this leading international journal.

> September 16, 2020: A new publication by Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian and Dr. Valerie B. O’Leary from the Department of Medical Genetics, Charles University in prestigious Journal Trends in Genetics gets featured as the Genome of the Months article and scores one of the four most-read papers since 2013 (https://www.cell.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0168-9525%2820%2930228-6).

> July 15, 2020: An International Mini-symposium was Organized by the Experimental Neurobiology Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Physiology and Genetics – Centre for Biosciences, Slovak Academy of Sciences, from the Department of Experimental Neurobiology, National Institute of Mental Health, and from the Department of Sleep Medicine and Chronobiology Presented and Discussed Recent Advances in Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia and Autism.

> July 2020: Dr. Alexandre Seillier joins the Experimental Neurobiology Program to Lead the Behavioral Neuroscience Group. He is a Renown Specialist in Animal Models of Schizophrenia, with Extensive International Experience. His Interest is the Neurobiology of Schizophrenia and the Role of Endocannabinoid Receptors. Welcome.

> May 15, 2020: The director of the Department of Experimental Neurobiology Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian together with Prof. Laszlo Zaborszky from the State University of New Jersey Rutgers, USA, Secured a Contract with Elsevier for a Monography Entitled ‘Acetylcholine in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias‘. This will be a Comprehensive Volume Presenting the State-of-the-art of the Central Cholinergic System and Acetylcholine, Covering from the Development of the Basal Forebrain Cholinergic System during Embryogenesis to Degeneration of Cholinergic Innervations and Neuronal Loss in Aging and AD Brain.

> January 10, 2020: Prof. Fabian Feiguin (MD, Ph.D.) joined the Experimental Neurobiology Programme to Lead the Molecular Genetics of Neurodegenerative and Neuropsychiatric Diseases. He will Develop a New Laboratory for Research in Drosophila Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, with Focus on TDP-43 protein. Welcome.

> November 29, 2019: On 12th Conference of the Czech Neuroscience Society, Tomáš Petrásek received Young Neuroscientist Award, for his article „McGill transgenic rat model of Alzheimer's disease displays cognitive and non-cognitive impairments and altered circadian clock function“  dedicated to characterization of an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00250/full)

> October 31, 2019: Dr. Feiguin from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste Presenting his Research on ‚Molecular Characterization of TDP-43-mediated Neurodegeneration in Drosophila Models of Human Diseases‘. Dr. Feiguin is a Leading Expert in Neurobiology and Genetics of Neurodegenerative Disease Studies in Drosophila Model. He is a Group Leader and has Received Training from the EMBL Heidelberg, IMP Vienna, and Harvard Medical School, Boston. (https://www.nudz.cz/molecular-characterization-of-tdp-43-mediated-neurodegeneration-in-drosophila-models-of-human-diseases/)

> October 18, 2019: Prof. Ntziachristos has been Honored with an Adjunct Professorship of the NIMH. Prof. Ntziachristos Authored over 500 Peer-Reviewed Papers, with Total h index 94 (2019). He is a Full Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering (C4/W3), and Chair of Biological Imaging at the Technical University Munich. He is a Co-investigator of Joint with RP1 Czech - Bayern Grant on Targeted Silencing of TRPVR1 Expressing Nociceptors in Chronic and Cancer Pain Models. (https://www.translatum.tum.de/research-groups/biological-imaging/)

> September 18, 2019: RND. Jan Říčný Received a Joint Grant (with Vidia, s.r.o) from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (Under the OP-PIK APPLICATION). The Aim of the Project is the Development of a Multiparametric Diagnostic Kit and Prototypes of Kits for the Determination of Auto-antibodies Against Selected Antigens, which will be Used in the Differential Diagnosis of Selected Neurological Diseases (Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Fronto-temporal Neurodegeneration, Lewy's Body Dementia and Vascular Dementia). 

> May 20, 2019, 2019: Prof. Ovsepian Receives a Three Years Research Award within the Bilateral Czech-Bayern Cooperation Program to Develop a Targeted Gene Therapy Method for Treatment of Migraine and Cancer Pain. The Award on the German Side Goes to Prof. Ntziachristos for Validating the Therapeutic Method Using Intravital Optoacoustic Mesoscopy and Tomography.  (https://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/ibmi/index.html).

> April 20 - 26, 2019: The Head of Animal Models of Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Diseases Group Dr. Petrasek Receives the Prize „Dr. Bures“ at the IX Neuropsychiatric Forum in Prague, (http://npforum.eu/).

> April 24 – 26, 2019: A Member of Animal Models of Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Diseases Mgr. Iveta Vojtěchová Receives the Best Poster Award for the Project Entitled „Maternal Immune Activation in the Rat: Do We Model Schizophrenia or Autism?“ at the IX Neuropsychiatric Forum in Pargue, (http://npforum.eu/).

> The British Journal of Psychiatry selects the ‚Dark Matter of the Brain‘ article by Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian published in the Brain Structure and Function as one of the most preeminent recent developments in the field (https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/47F6B87901A64F69F7D6B1953F1F7260/S0007125019000503a.pdf/kaleidoscope.pdf)

> The Annual Molecular and Cellular Neuroimaging Workshop-2019 (March-April) organized by the Department of Experimental Neurobiology at the National Institute of Mental Health. Participant institutes (1) National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, (2) Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences, Prague, (3) 3rd Faculty of Medicine Charles University, Prague and (4) Department of Biophysical Chemistry, J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry, National Academy of Sciences, Prague. Support of the project: RVO by the Ministry of Health, Czech Republic (https://www.nudz.cz/eduEventDetail/?id=277).

> 'Invisible Neurons, Relict Networks and Dark Matter of the Brain. A New Hypothesis on Silent Neurons and Brains Dark Matter' proposed by Prof. Saak V. Ovsepian in the Spotlight of LINK.MEDIUM.COM (https://medium.com/dialogue-and-discourse/the-invisible-brain-6deab6f3d41d).

> 'Who We are and What We Do?' A Note from the Department of Experimental Neurobiology at the National Institute of the Mental Health, Czech Republic (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330925540_RP1-_NUDZ_LETTER_2019) Published in NUDZ Letters 2/2019 (in Czech).

> A recent study from NUDZ published in Brain Structure and Function by Prof. Ovsepian is in the Spotlight of the Science Trends: 'The Dark Matter of the Brain Lights up' (https://sciencetrends.com/the-dark-matter-of-the-brain-lights-up/)

> ČNPS Prize for the Best Poster in the Field of Psychopharmaceutical Research to Dr. Štefková (Dr. Páleníček group) at 61st Czech-Slovak Psychopharmacological Conference in Jeseník 2019. Title of the related paper 'Effect of Openclomethamine and its Enantiomers on Behavior and Pharmacokinetic Profile in Wistar Rats'.

> Dr. Hana Georgi and her work group were awarded for the Best Contribution on Neurodegenerative Diseases by the Alzheimer Endowment Fund at 61st Czech-Slovak Psychopharmacological Conference in Jeseník 2019. Subject: 'Cognitive Calculator. KoKa 2.0 Software'.

> The Prestigious Alzheimer Endowment Fund Award 2018 goes to RP1 researcher M.Sc. Dagmar Bezdekova (Dr. Kristofikova group) for the Best Poster on 'Cellular Models of Tauopathy in Alzheimer's Disease Studies' at 4th Interdisciplinary Student Scientific Conference on Aging (http://www.nudz.cz/_intra-net_/Aktuality/)

> 'A Study of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disease in Animal Models' by Dr. Eva Szczurowska (Dr. Kelemen group) receives the Annual Prize for the Best Research Presentation in 2018 from the National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic (http://www.nudz.cz/_intra-net_/Aktuality/)

> 'New Research of the Effects of Psychedelics on EEG Spectra and Temporal Synchrony' by Mr. Vejmola (Dr. Palenicek group) receives Prof. Dr. med. Werer M. Herrmann (1941-2002) Memorial Grant at the IPEG Congress in Zurich, 2018 (http://www.nudz.cz/_intra-net_/Aktuality/)

> Science Trends: 'When Brain Bleeds Glutamate: A New Perspective On Alzheimer’s Disease' (https://sciencetrends.com/when-brain-bleeds-glutamate-a-new-perspective-on-alzheimers-disease/)

> The Irish Times: 'Searching for Alzheimer Clues Inside the Brain's Cells as well as out' (https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/searching-for-alzheimer-clues-inside-the-brains-cells-as-well-as-out-1.3610180)

> Science Trends: 'Pain Relief with Interference shRNA Proves Viable' (https://sciencetrends.com/pain-relief-interference-shrna-proves-viable/)

> The Department of Experimental Neurobiology at the National Institute of the Mental Health Gets a New Leader: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329701477_SAAK_OVSEPIAN-NUDZ


Selected publications 2018 - 2020

O'LEARY, V.B., OVSEPIAN, S.V. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Trends Genet. 2020 Aug 26:S0168-9525(20)30228-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2020.08.014. 
Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32943208/ IF 11.6.

ZAITSEV, A.V., SMOLENSKY, I.V., JORRATT, P., OVSEPIAN, S.V. Neurobiology, Functions, and Relevance of Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters (EAATs) to Treatment of Refractory Epilepsy. CNS Drugs. 2020 Sep 14. doi: 10.1007/s40263-020-00764-y 
Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32926322/ IF 4.8. 

OVSEPIAN, S.V., HORACEK, J., O'LEARY V.B., HOSCHL, C. The Ups and Downs of BACE1: Walking a Fine Line between Neurocognitive and Other Psychiatric Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. Neuroscientist. 2020 Jul 25:1073858420940943. doi: 10.1177/1073858420940943.
Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32713260/. IF 6.5.

HROMADKOVA, L., BEZDEKOVA, D., PALA, J., SCHEDIN-WEISS, S., TJERNBERG, L.O., HOSCHL, C., OVSEPIAN, S.V. Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) promotes molecular polarization and differentiation of immature neuroblastoma cells into definitive neurons. BBA - Mol. Cell Res. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2020.118737. IF 4.7

PINTEROVA-LECA, N., HORSLEY, R.R., DANDA, H., ŽÍDKOVÁ, M., LHOTKOVÁ, E., SICHOVA, K.STEFKOVA, K., BALÍKOVÁ, M., KUCHAR, M.PALENICEK, T. Naphyrone (naphthylpyrovalerone): Pharmacokinetics, behavioural effects and thermoregulation in Wistar rats. Addiction Biology. 2020. 

https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.12906. IF 4.2

JUZA, R., VLCEK, P., MEZEIOVA, E., MUSILEK, K., SOUKUP, O., KORABECNY, J. Recent Advances With 5-HT 3 Modulators for Neuropsychiatric and Gastrointestinal Disorders. Med. Res. Rev. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/med.21666 ; IF 9.7

OVSEPIAN, S.V., JIANGE, Y., SARDELLA, T., MALEKZADAH - NAJAFABAD, J., BURTON, N., YU, X., NTZIACHRISTOS, V. Visualizing cortical response to optogenetic stimulation and sensory inputs using multispectral handheld optoacoustic imaging. Photoacoustics. 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pacs.2019.100153, IF 5.3

OVSEPIAN, SV., OLEFIR, I., NTZIACHRISTOS, V. Advances in Optoacoustic Neurotomography of Animal Models. Trends Biotechnol. 2019 Oct 26. PII: S0167-7799(19)30186-6. DOI:10.1016/j.tibtech.2019.07.012. IF 13.8

 KRIŠTOFIKOVÁZ., ŠÍROVÁJ., KLASCHKA, J., OVSEPIANSV. Acute and Chronic Sleep Deprivation-Related Changes in N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptor—Nitric Oxide Signalling in the Rat  Cerebral Cortex with Reference to Aging and Brain Lateralization. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019, 20(13), 13. ISSN 1661-6596. DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133273. IF 4.183.

O'LEARY, VB., OVSEPIANSV., SMIDA, J., ATKINSON, MJ. PARTICLE − The RNA podium for genomic silencers. The Journal of Cellular Physiology. 2019, Volume 234(8), 1-7. ISSN 0021-9541. DOI: 10.1002/jcp.28739. IF 4.080.

OLEFIR, I., GHAZARYAN, A., YANG, H., MALEKZADEH-NAJAFABADI, J., GLASL, S., SYMVOULIDIS, P., O’LEARY, VB., SERGIADIS, G., NTZIACHRISTOS, V., OVSEPIANSV. Spatial and Spectral Mapping and Decomposition of Neural Dynamics and Organization of the Mouse Brain with Multispectral Optoacoustic Tomography. Cell Reports. 2019, 2019(26), 2833-2846. ISSN 2211-1247. DOI: https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(19)30182-2.pdf. IF 8.032.

CHALUPOVÁK., KORÁBEČNÝJ., BARTOLINI, M., MONTI, B., LAMBA, D., CALIANDRO, R., PESARESI, A., BRAZZOLOTTO, X., GASTELLIER, A., NACHON, F., PEJCHAL, J., JAROSOVA, M., HEPNAROVA, V., JUN, D., HRABINOVA, M., DOLEZAL, R., ZDAROVA KARASOVA, J., MZIK, M., KRIŠTOFIKOVÁZ., MISIK, J., MUCKOVA, L., JOST, P., SOUKUPO., BENKOVA, M., SETNICKA, V., HABARTOVA, L., CHVOJKOVÁ, M., KLETEČKOVÁL., VALEŠK., MEZEIOVÁE., ULIASSI, E., VALIS, M., NEPOVIMOVA, E., BOLOGNESI, ML., KUČAK. Novel tacrine-tryptophan hybrids: Multi-target directed ligands as potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2019(168), 491-514. ISSN 0223-5234. DOI: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0223523419301357?via%3Dihub. IF 4.833.

OVSEPIAN, S.V., The dark matter of the brain. Brain Struct Funct. 2019, 429(1835). doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-019-01835-7. IF 4.231.

KRAJČOVIČ B., FAJNEROVÁ I., HORÁČEK J., KELEMEN E., KUBÍK Š., SVOBODA J., STUCHLÍK A. Neural and neuronal discoordination in schizophrenia: From ensembles through networks to symptoms. Acta Physiologica (Oxf). 2019 Apr 19:e13282. doi: 10.1111/apha.13282. [Epub ahead of print] Review. IF 5.9.

OVSEPIAN, S.V., O'LEARY, V.B. Can arginase inhibitors be the answer to therapeutic challenges in Alzheimer's disease? Neurotherapeutics. 2018 Sep 21. doi: 10.1007/s13311-018-0668-6. IF 6.032

SZCZUROWSKAE., AHUJA, N., JIRUŠKA, P., KELEMENE., STUCHLÍKA. Impairment of neural coordination in hippocampal neuronal ensembles after a psychotomimetic dose of dizocilpine. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2018, 81(February), 275-283. ISSN 0278-5846. DOI: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.09.013. IF 4.185.

 OVSEPIAN S.V., O'LEARY V.B., AYVAZYAN, N.M., AL-SABI, A., NTZIACHRISTOS, V., DOLLY, J.O. Neurobilogy and therapeutic applications of neurotoxins targeting transmitter realase. Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Aug 25. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2018.08.016.  IF 11.131.

 HEPNAROVA, V., KORÁBEČNÝJ., MATOUSKOVA, L., JOST, P., MUCKOVA, L., HRABINOVA, M., VYKOUKALOVA, N., KERHARTOVA, M., KUCERA, T., DOLEZAL, R., NEPOVIMOVA, E., ŠPILOVSKÁK., MEZEIOVÁE., PHAM, NL., JUN, D., STAUD, F., KAPINGD., KUČAK., SOUKUPO. The concept of hybrid molecules of tacrine and benzyl quinolone carboxylic acid (BQCA) as multifunctional agents for Alzheimer's disase. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2018, 150. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.02.083. IF 4.816.

OLEJNÍKOVÁL., POLIDAROVÁ, L., BEHULIAK, M., SLÁDEK, M., SUMOVÁ, A. Circadian alignment in a foster mother improves the offspring's pathological phenotype. Journal of Physiology-London. May 2018. doi: 10.1113/JP275585. IF 4.540.




RP1 Experimental Neurobiology RP2 Public Mental Health RP3 Applied Neuroscience and Neuroimaging RP4 Epidemiological and Clinical Research in Addictions RP5 Sleep Medicine and Chronobiology RP6 Brain Electrophysiology RP7 Clinical Research of Mental Disorders RP8 Translational Neuroscience International Cooperation Department AD Centrum Publications Ongoing Projects Pharmaceutical Industry-Sponsored Research Postgraduate Students Conferences & Seminars Awards International Course 2015
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