About me

Assistant Professor in the department of Physiology and Pharmacology and group leader for the Developmental and Translational Neurobiology research group.

Dr. Cristiana Cruceanu received her PhD from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, with mentors Dr. Gustavo Turecki (Douglas Research Institute) and Dr. Guy Rouleau (Montreal Neurological Institute). Her published work addressed questions regarding genetic, transcriptional, and epigenetic mechanisms in adult bipolar disorder and major depression using data-driven approaches at different molecular biology levels (DNA, RNA, and epigenetic mechanisms) in large cohorts.

For postdoctoral training, she delved deeper into the molecular mechanisms driving negative mental health outcomes at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, working with Dr. Elisabeth Binder. Using state-of-the-art in vitro models of early developing brain (induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cerebral organoids), single-cell technologies, multiple high-throughput approaches, and extensively characterized human perinatal cohorts, her work shed light on cell-type-specific effects of stress on neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Research description

The lab’s research aims to define the molecular mechanisms underpinning how the environment impacts human brain development, and the long-term outcomes of these exposures on mental health– whether negative or positive. It is becoming more and more clear that significant behavioral dysfunctions and long-term offspring vulnerabilities, as well as resilience mechanisms, can be traced back to maternal prenatal exposures. The fundamental questions behind our research are:

(A) What molecular factors shape in-utero human brain development, leading to life-long disease risk or resilience?

(B) How do environmental stimuli interact with genetic susceptibility in specialized cells and tissues to shape mental health outcomes?

The exposures at the forefront of our interest are stress hormones, psychotropic medications and inflammatory agents, given their interconnected mechanisms of action and relevance in neuropsychiatric phenotypes.

Education

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany

Postdoctoral Fellow: 2016-2022 – Department: Translational Research in Psychiatry; Mentor: Elisabeth Binder

Research topic: Early-life and prenatal stress mechanisms: single-cell level transcriptome and epigenome investigation in the brain organoids and perinatal tissues

 

McGill University, Montreal, Canada

PhD: 2016 – Department: Human Genetics; Mentors: Gustavo Turecki and Guy Rouleau

Thesis title: Investigation of genetic and molecular susceptibility factors for bipolar disorder

 

Guelph University, Guelph, Canada        

BSc (Honors): 2008 – Department: Molecular Biology and Genetics; Mentor: Andrew Bendall

Thesis title: Measuring the effects of Dlx5 and Dlx6 on proliferation of the chondrogenic cell line ATDC5

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Current funding

Karolinska Institutet Faculty Fund

The Strategic Research Area Neuroscience (StratNeuro)

 

Previous funding (selected)

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Individual Fellowship, Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA-IF)

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship