Researchers at the Neurobiology Laboratory For Brain Aging and Mental Health are fascinated by what impairs neuronal functions in the stressed, aged and Alzheimer’s disease brain and how this impairment can be prevented with specific regard to the involvement of mitochondria.

A primary area of research in the Neurobiology Laboratory is broadly focused on Alzheimer's disease (AD), with the general goals of elucidating factors that regulate AD pathogenesis and pursuing translational approaches that will be useful in the prevention and/or treatment of the disease. Our approach to investigating research questions involves the use of complementary cellular, biochemical and molecular techniques to analyze relationships in human tissues, wild-type and transgenic rodent models, and cultured cells. We have been the first showing that hyperphosphorylated tau can induce mitochondrial dysfunction in tau transgenic mice. By addressing the interaction between tau and amyloid-beta peptide, we found a synergistic action of tau and amyloid-beta pathology on the mitochondria.

A new area of research in the lab seeks to understand the relationships between age-related loss of brain steroid hormones and the development of AD.

In close relationship to the prior research topics, one of the current goals of our research is to evaluate common signalling pathways up-stream of mitochondria related to stress and neurodegeneration as well as neurogenesis such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a central player for the effects of stress on brain function and plasticity and psychopathological implications.

Current research interests include:

  • Bio-energetics - Role of mitochondria in neurodegeneration and cognition: Alzheimer's disease, aging, stress and stress-related psychiatric disorders
  • Energy metabolism, redox signalling, and circadian rhythms
  • Translational approaches: Biomarker research in psychiatric disorders (Alzheimer, stress-associated mood disorders)
  • Neuropharmacology – Mode of action of antidementive drugs targeting mitochondria

Prof. Anne Eckert is heading of the Neurobiology Laboratory For Brain Aging and Mental Health. Dr. Eckert studied pharmacy at the University of Marburg, Germany, and received her Ph.D. in 1994 working on changes of intracellular calcium regulation in psychiatric disorders at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany. After completion of her thesis at the Univ. of Heidelberg, Dr Eckert joined Carl Cotman’s Lab, University of California at Irvine, USA, working on cell death mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease. The next step in her career was the move to the Dept. of Pharmacology at the University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, as assistant professor. Since 2004 she is the head of the Neurobiology Laboratory for Brain Aging and Mental Health at the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel and since 2008 Professor of Experimental Psychiatry at the University of Basel. She is author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, 21 review articles, 25 book chapters and 200 abstracts (h-index: 34).

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