Can we prevent depression and mood-disorders?

Raised of $5,000 Goal
Ended on 11/03/14
Campaign Ended
  • $1,507
  • 31%
  • Finished
    on 11/03/14

About This Project

About 18% of the American population is affected by a form of anxiety disorder and about 9% by depression. Current treatments for these mood-disorders aim at alleviating the symptoms without treating the causes. The aim of this project is to propose a new preventive therapeutic strategy for mood-disorders by targeting one of their major risk factor: Stress vulnerability.

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

Modern life is characterized by repeated exposure to various stressors, for instance work load or pier pressure. Stress is a major risk factor in many mood-disorders such as depression and anxiety . Not everyone exposed to stressful conditions will develop any of these diseases suggesting that some individuals are more susceptible to stress and its consequences than others. The question of why some people are susceptible to stress, while others are resistant, remains unanswered. Finding answers to this question is fundamental to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of stress-related disorders.

What is the significance of this project?

Approximately 20.9 million American adults have a mood disorder. Current treatments aim at alleviating the symptoms once the diagnosis has been made, and are efficient only in part of the affected population. We are still missing preventive strategies that could help at-risk individuals not to develop a mood disorder. Here, I suggest focusing on the main risk factor for mood disorders: stress. Exposure to stressful situations induces changes in brain chemicals that are responsible for the development of depressive or anxious behaviors. By reducing the effects that stress has on the brain chemistry, we can prevent the development of major psychiatric illnesses that are triggered by stress.

What are the goals of the project?

The right amount of neuronal excitation and inhibition allows the brain to function properly. Stress can affect this balance, leading to toxic levels of excitation and eventually to neuronal death. On the long-term, this loss of neurons leads to the behavioral abnormalities that characterize mood disorders. My goals are to use mouse models of stress-related disorders to:

  • Demonstrate that the inability of restoring a normal balance between excitation and inhibition after exposure to stress is a cause for the development of mood disorders
  • Propose a new therapeutic strategy targeting the excitation/inhibition balance during exposure to stress to prevent the development of mood disorders
My ultimate goal is to obtain preclinical proof of concept and initiate clinical trials in human populations.


Please wait...

Discovering new therapeutic strategies to help people requires preclinical studies in animal (mice) models. Most of the budget will be used for mice purchasing/housing, and the reagents necessary to assess the effects of stress on their brains.

Beyond the requested funds, I've added a "stretch goal" of $5,000. These additional funds would allow me to perform additional experiments using transgenic mice. We have in my laboratory a mouse line with high vulnerability to stress. I have recently shown that these mice display long-term memory deficits after exposure to repeated mild stress. Pharmacologically preventing the development of these memory deficits will provide further evidence that we can develop drugs to prevent mood-disorders in at-risk individuals.

92% of your contribution may be claimed as tax-deductible (as Experiment charges an 8% fee)

Meet the Team

Laurence Coutellier
Laurence Coutellier

Team Bio

I have been working with mouse models of mental disorders for the past 10 years.

I received my PhD in Germany in 2008 at the University of Giessen. My dissertation was focused on the effects of early environmental stress on susceptibility to anxiety and fearfulness in adult mice.

After receiving my PhD, I joined the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland as a postdoctoral fellow, followed by another postdoctoral position in the Department of Neuroscience at Stanford University.

I recently joined the Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor and set-up my own laboratory. In my laboratory, we use behavioral, pharmacological and molecular methods in mice to study how genetic and environmental factors (such as stress) interact and contribute to neuropsychiatric conditions. More information about myself, my research, my qualifications and my publications can be found on my LinkedIn, Pubmed as well as on The Ohio State University Department of Psychology pages.

Press and Media

This link will bring you to a discussion about a paper I published on the transgenic mouse line I am studying. These mice have high vulnerability to stress. Interestingly, they also show behavioral impairments that resemble those observed in schizophrenic patients (another mental disorder often triggered by stress).

Here is a video of a talk I gave at the Nisonger Center (a "University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities") about my research on how genes and environmental factors such as stress affect the development of the mouse brain, and predispose individuals to neuropsychiatric conditions.

Project Backers

  • 23Backers
  • 31%Funded
  • $1,507Total Donations
  • $65.52Average Donation
Please wait...