Most mental illnesses begin during adolescence and 1 in 4 youth meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder. Yet, the biological causes for this heightened vulnerability are unknown and there are no biomarkers to detect youth at high risk. Our research aims at understanding the neurobiology of psychiatric vulnerability in adolescence and discovering biomarkers of risk and resilience during this age. We study neurobiological processes ongoing during adolescent brain development and how these events are modulated by exposure to risk or protective factors.
We apply multidisciplinary and translational approaches to identify key genes controlling the adolescent maturation of the prefrontal cortex in males and females. Using molecular, neuroanatomical, neurochemical, pharmacological, genetic, and behavioral tools, we have demonstrated that a set of guidance cue genes and their microRNA regulators orchestrate the development of the prefrontal cortex in adolescence, determine differential vulnerability to develop psychopathology-like phenotypes in mice and are tightly associated with substance abuse, schizophrenia and major depression in humans.
Welcome to the Flores Lab
Dr. Cecilia Flores is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an Associate Member of the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. She is a Principal Investigator at the McGill Douglas – Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, an International Collaborative Initiative in Adversity and Mental Health. She is also a Principal Investigator at the Ludmer Centre at McGill University. She is the current President of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology. She studied at the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology at Concordia University and received her Ph.D. in 2000. She did post-doctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University. The overall theme of her research is the neurobiology of brain development in adolescence and how it is impacted by stressors and drugs of abuse. Using multidisciplinary and translational approaches, her team has demonstrated that a set of guidance cue genes and their epigenetic regulators orchestrate the development of the prefrontal cortex in adolescence and are tightly linked to substance use disorder and major depression in humans. Dr. Flores runs an active research laboratory at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. She holds grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) from the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Les Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS), and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). She is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and received the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology Young Investigator Award in 2010 and the Innovations in Neuropsychopharmacology Research Award in 2019.