My research is primarily focused on the characterization of the biological bases of neurodevelopmental disorders through the employment of behavioral tests in animal models. In particular, my key scientific interest is the identification of the mechanisms of interaction between lipid mediators (including neuroactive steroids and endocannabinoids) and key brain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. To this end, we employ a broad array of behavioral techniques, as well as electroencephalography, stereotactic surgery and HPLC.
The long-term goal of this research is the development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of pathological aggression, autism-spectrum disorder, Tourette syndrome, schizophrenia and impulse-control disorders (such as pathological gambling).
My laboratory is currently involved in two major translational research projects. The first target of our investigations is the characterization of the molecular substrates of gene x environment interactions in impulsive aggression. The second aim of our research is the development of novel steroid- and cannabinoid-based tools for the therapy of impulse-control disorders, Tourette syndrome and schizophrenia. In particular, we have discovered the antipsychotic efficacy of neurosteroid-based therapies in patients affected by schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and impulse-control disorders. Both projects involve multiple collaborations with several basic and clinical scientists in US, Canada, Italy, Germany, Croatia and Malta.