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Dr. Chadi Touma

Research Group Leader


MPI of Psychiatry, Research Group: Psychoneuroendocrinology


Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry
RG Touma: Psychoneuroendocrinology
Kraepelinstr. 2
D-80804 Munich

Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 30622-228
Fax: +49 (0) 89 / 30622-569


Research Focus


The focus of the research group Psychoneuroendocrinology is to generate and characterise clinically relevant animal models of inborn (trait) emotionality and stress reactivity in order to elucidate neurobiological, endocrine and molecular-genetic mechanisms underlying affective disorders such as major depression. It is only with deep insight into these mechanisms that novel treatment strategies and promising targets for therapeutic interventions can be developed in the future.

The spectrum of our research includes projects at the genetic, proteomic and systemic level. We apply a variety of behavioural tests assessing emotionality, coping and cognitive functions along with neuroendocrine approaches to analyze neuropeptides and proteins involved in the activity and regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Furthermore, we use paradigms addressing the interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental influences, shedding light on the epigenetic modification of behavioural traits and neurobiological endophenotypes.

Research interests:

  • Hormones, Brain and Behaviour - molecular genetic and neuroendocrine bases of behaviour
  • Function and Regulation of the Stress Hormone Systems - focus: alterations in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders
  • Gene – Environment Interactions, Epigenetics - modulation of genetic predispositions by social and non-social factors

Primary techniques:

Behavioural experiments

  • emotionality and coping styles
  • activity rhythms, learning and memory
  • social behaviour, parental care

Neuroendocrine investigations

  • testing reactivity and feedback regulation of the HPA axis
  • hormone measurements in plasma samples and microdialysates from specific brain areas (quantifying steroids, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters)
  • non-invasive monitoring of steroid hormone metabolites in faecal samples

Functional neuroanatomy and pharmacology

  • gene expression profiling in different brain areas (microarray, in situ hybridisation, real-time PCR)
  • neuronal plasticity measures and microdialysis
  • effects of neuromodulatory substances and drugs on emotionality and neuroendocrine responses

Model organisms: Laboratory mice - animal models of neurodegenerative and affective disorders (generated by selective breeding or targeted genetic manipulation)