Iiris Hovatta
Group Leader

Department of Biosciences

P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5 D)
00014 University of Helsinki


Phone: +358 (0)2 941 58861

Neurogenomics Laboratory

  In Finnish

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders within the EU and cause considerable disability due to high prevalence (14 %), early onset and chronic nature.

The major questions in anxiety disorders are which molecular events lead to and maintain pathological anxiety, and how this pathology can be normalized. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to understand the genetic and neurobiological basis of normal and pathological anxiety.

Anxiety is an evolutionarily conserved response to a threatening situation and therefore mouse models can be used to study some aspects of anxiety. We are identifying gene regulatory networks, comprising of mRNAs and miRNAs that are dysregulated in various mouse models of anxiety-like behavior. We then investigate the molecular mechanisms that link these networks to the regulation of anxiety-like behavior using genetic and pharmacological tools, combined with behavioral analysis.

Importantly, we further study the homologous human genes as candidate genes for human anxiety disorders. Understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate anxiety is likely to lead to the development of better targeted therapies for anxiety disorders.