Iiris Hovatta


Description of research and teaching

Research: Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders within the EU and cause considerable disability due to high prevalence (14 %), early onset and chronic nature. The major questions in anxiety disorders are which molecular events lead to and maintain pathological anxiety, and how this pathology can be normalized. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to understand the genetic and neurobiological basis of normal and pathological anxiety. Anxiety is an evolutionarily conserved response to a threatening situation and therefore mouse models can be used to study some aspects of anxiety. We are identifying gene regulatory networks, comprising of mRNAs and miRNAs that are dysregulated in various mouse models of anxiety-like behavior. We then investigate the molecular mechanisms that link these networks to the regulation of anxiety-like behavior using genetic and pharmacological tools, combined with behavioral analysis. Importantly, we further study the homologous human genes as candidate genes for human anxiety disorders. Understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate anxiety are likely to lead to the development of better targeted therapies for anxiety disorders.

Teaching: I am the Chair of Doctoral Program Brain & Mind since 2016. I am involved in teaching genetics, genomics, and behavioral neuroscience. I organize a B.Sc./M.Sc. level course Behavioral Genetics yearly during period 3, a Ph.D. level seminar series Big Questions in Neuroscience and Current Limits of Knowledge, and I co-organize the yearly Finnish Symposium on Biological Psychiatry.


Highlighted publications

  1. Glyoxalase 1 and glutathione reductase 1 regulate anxiety in mice

    Hovatta, I., Tennant, R. S., Helton, R., Marr, R. A., Singer, O., Redwine, J. M., Ellison, J. A., Schadt, E. E., Verma, I. M., Lockhart, D. J. & Barlow, C., 2005, In : Nature. 438, p. 662-666 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  2. Assessment of the Neuropeptide S System in Anxiety Disorders

    Donner, J., Haapakoski, R., Ezer, S., Melen, E., Pirkola, S., Gratacos, M., Zucchelli, M., Anedda, F., Johansson, L. E., Soderhall, C., Orsmark-Pietras, C., Suvisaari, J., Martin-Santos, R., Torrens, M., Silander, K., Terwilliger, J. D., Wickman, M., Pershagen, G., Lönnqvist, J., Peltonen, L. & 5 othersEstivill, X., D'Amato, M., Kere, J., Alenius, H. & Hovatta, I., 2010, In : Biological Psychiatry. 68, 5, p. 474-483 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  3. Anxiety genetics-findings from cross-species genome-wide approaches

    Sokolowska, E. & Hovatta, I., 2013, In : Biology of mood & anxiety disorders . 3, 9, 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

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Latest activities

  1. The effect of homocysteine on telomere length

    Zuzanna Misiewicz (Supervisor), Iiris Maaria Hovatta (Supervisor)
    May 2017

    Activity: Examination typesSupervision of other thesis (Master's, Licentiate)

  2. The 2nd Finnish Symposium of Biological Psychiatry, Finland

    Zuzanna Misiewicz (Member of organizing committee), Iiris Maaria Hovatta (Member of organizing committee), Tiina Maria Paunio (Member of organizing committee)
    19 Dec 2016

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

  3. Brain Research Society of Finland (External organisation)

    Iiris Hovatta (Board member)

    Activity: Membership typesMembership or other role in public Finnish or international organization

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