Studying gene-environment interactions in the pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neuropsychiatric condition that affects approximately 2-3% of the population. OCD is characterised by obsessions (i.e. restricted and perseverative thoughts of an intrusive nature), and/or compulsions (i.e. repetitive actions or mental rituals).

The cause of OCD is unclear and, as with any neuropsychiatric condition, a combination of genetic and environmental influences is likely to be involved in the development and maintenance of the disorder. While there are many aspects of OCD that are specific to the complex cognition and behaviour of humans, there is much to be learnt from animal models.


  • Study gene-environment interactions in animal models relevant to OCD.
  • Assess the therapeutic potential of environmental intervention and new pharmacological approaches.

In the lab, we are using SAPAP3 knockout (KO) mice, which are one of the most well-studied mouse models relevant to OCD. We are also combining pharmacological and behavioural approaches to model OCD in rodents.

Through this project we will study gene-environment interactions in animal models relevant to OCD as well as assess the therapeutic potential of environmental intervention (e.g. environmental enrichment, exercise), along with new pharmacological approaches (including using psychedelics such as ketamine and psilocybin). In that regard, we recently published antidepressant-like effects of ketamine in a mouse model relevant to treatment-resistant depression.

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