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