The Sufka Lab

My lab’s research objectives is to develop, validate and utilize animal model simulations on neuropsychiatric syndromes.  We’ve developed a chick anxiety-depression model that possesses good face, construct and predictive validity.  In other words, there are excellent homologies between our model and that of humans in terms of theoretical underpinnings, biomarkers of stress and depression, pharmacological sensitivity, environmental enrichment manipulations, cognitive disturbances and genetic vulnerability/resiliency.

The pictures show our group doing dissections of a 5-6 day old chick brain.  Here we’re taking a coronal section of the posterior forebrain and then dissecting a portion of the superior surface that is the hippocampus.  The intent is to quantify BDNF in this region in our model.  You see, BDNF suppression is a major biomarker of depression that leads to stunted neurogenesis. Moreover, the therapeutic effects of antidepressants relies on elevations of BDNF in the hippocampus.
Right now we are pursuing several lines of research in the model.  Obviously, we’re examining BDNF in our model.  We also have identified chick strains that shown stress vulnerability and resiliency in our paradigm and looking to show that BDNF levels track these sensitivities.  Also, we are planning to show that environmental enrichment can mitigate some of the stress vulnerability in that one strain.  Finally, we are exploring glutamate receptor targets as novel antidepressant therapeutics.