The Neurobiology of Depression

Professor Eric J. Nestler, M.D., PhD.

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Depression is a common, chronic, and debilitating syndrome, which involves dysregulation throughout emotional centers in the brain. Our laboratory has focused on stable changes within these centers that control life-long vulnerability to different forms of stress and the induction of depression-related behavioral abnormalities in mouse model and human. A major finding are dramatic differences in the effects of stress and depression in males versus females, which suggests that depression may be a fundamentally distinct syndrome in the two sexes.


Current studies are exploring the detailed mechanisms by which specific gene expression abnormalities identified in mouse models and human depression contribute to depression. This work establishes gene expression and epigenetic regulation as important mechanisms underlying the ways in which a history of stress causes lasting changes in specific brain regions which result in depression in vulnerable individuals oftentimes in a sex-specific manner. The long-term goal is to use these insights to develop improved diagnostic tests and treatments for depression and related syndromes.

Professor Eric J. Nestler is the Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he serves as Dean for Academic Affairs, Chief Scientific Officer, and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute. After obtaining his B.A., Ph.D., and M.D. degrees from Yale, he completed psychiatry residency training also at Yale. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (1998) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005). He is past President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) and the Society for Neuroscience (2017). 

About The Merson Lecture

The annual lecture is named in honour of Dr David Merson, who supported the series in order to promulgate the best neuroscience research and what it has to offer the community in the future. It is given by a prominent, internationally leading neuroscientist whose research is of relevance to laboratories at QBI.

Dr Merson is the founder and ex-CEO of Mincom Limited. Since retiring, he has become director of a range of organisations and charitable institutions. He is a member of QBI’s Advisory Board and was the inaugural Chair of the QBI Development Board. His philanthropic sponsorship of this lecture is indicative of a strong community interest in neuroscience and the inspiring research that is being done in the area of neurological and mental diseases. 



Level 7, Queensland Brain Institute, Building 79
The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus

Lecture: 5:00pm
Cocktail party: 6:00pm