Home @ Neurobiology of Resilience

Team Resilieo is a group of neuroscientists led by Asst.Prof.Rupshi Mitra, based in NTU's School of Biological Sciences

Stress-related disorders including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder tops mortality and disability in today’s world (a life-time occurance of 20-30%). Depression ranks first in terms of disability and second in mortality after cardiac diseases. Anxiety is comorbid with most psychological conditions including depression and PTSD. Unfortunately, intervention with pharmacological compounds and behavioral therapy still holds little hope for complete cure. Even after decades of research, intervention against mood and stress-disorders remain far-fetched, sought with undesirable side-effects and heavy economic toll on society. Thus a successful curative approach is urgently needed.

Through my research I have established specific brain regions and pathways involved in generation of anxiety and depression. I have also established several animal models of stress and resilience. Over the years I have shown that growth of neurons in amygdala, the emotional center of brain is correlated with high anxiety. Additionally, I have shown through gene therapy approach that manipulation of certain proteins within the amygdala can block both neuronal growth and correlated anxiety. Recently I have shown another very different approach, i.e., manipulation of environment alone can reduce stress-related symptoms. All these approaches indicate the amazing malleable nature of brain and behavior. This also holds up the promise that through proper therapeutic intervention that targets specific plasticity of brain, we can arrive at more definitive medicines and curative approaches.

One of the main aspect of scientific understanding mood-disorders in humans is to carry out well-planned population studies. Moreover, detailed understanding of brain mechanisms from animal studies will hold best promise if it can be translated successfully to human conditions. To bridge this gap it will be crucial to carry out parallel correlative studies in humans, with particular emphasis on stress-physiology.

Another very important fact to remember is the aspect of individual variation in stress vulnerability. Thus, same stress does not affect all individuals equally, some are more susceptible than others who are more resilient to same stressor. How is this brought about? Studies on both animals and patient population will throw crucial light on this aspect too. This is also of utmost importance in bringing about successful patient specific treatments against mood disorders

Teaching: "Neuropsychology of stress and resilience", SBS, NTU

Neuroscience of Learning @ Cradle