NeSTED: The Working Group of Neuropharmacology and Stress/Trauma Exposure during Development

En hjärna som svävar ovanför en hand.
Svävande hjärna ovanför kupad hand. Foto: hainguyenrp from Pixabay

Research and activities


May 2023: the Cruceanu and Matosin groups receive a Collaborative Research Grant from the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO).

Meet our core members


Dr. Cristiana Cruceanu 

Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Role in NeSTED: In vitro models, exposure during prenatal periodsMeet our core members

The Cruceanu laboratory aims to elucidate molecular mechanisms of how the prenatal environment is transmitted to the fetus and impacts human brain development, potentially shaping life-long mental health and illness. To study human-specific processes in difficult to access developing tissues, we use complex in-vitro model systems of the developing human brain and placenta (organoids) as well as primary tissues. The lab focuses on understanding exposures related to stress metabolism and pharmacological interventions like antidepressant treatment, and their impact on neurodevelopment and early embedding of mental illness risk or resilience.


Dr. Thorhildur Halldorsdottir

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland

Role in NeSTED: Human cohorts and health registries, stress exposure during childhood and adolescence, gene-by-environment interactions

The Halldorsdottir Laboratory aims to uncover why some youth develop psychiatric symptoms following early life stress exposure while others do not. Specifically, our goal is to understand how stressful and traumatic experiences in childhood or adolescence alter developmental and genetic processes in ways that increase an individual's risk for psychopathology. We use multidisciplinary methods drawn from clinical and developmental psychology, behavioral genetics and psychiatric epidemiology to bring us closer to this goal.

Dr. Juan

Dr. Juan Pablo Lopez

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Role in NeSTED: Animal models of stress and treatment response.

As part of NeSTED, the Lopez Laboratory aims to identify, characterize, and manipulate cell populations and circuits that underlie susceptibility and resilience to stress-related psychiatric disorders. Our experiments are performed in male and female mice, during early life and adolescence, which are critical developmental periods associated with the etiology of psychiatric disorders. In addition, we aim to investigate if exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy or early life can affect normal development.

Porträttbild av Natalie Matosin

Dr. Natalie Matosin

Senior Research Fellow (Assistant Professor), Molecular Horizons Institute

University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia

Role in NeSTED: Human brain, early life stress.

The Matosin Lab provides a crucial puzzle piece to NeSTED, specifically by contributing human brain samples, both postmortem and ex vivo. This bridges the in vivo, in vitro, and clinical cohort studies from the other group members. Using human brain tissues, we specifically focus on understanding the persistent cellular and molecular pathology that originates from early life stress directly in the human brain, which is crucial for both understanding the aetiology of stress-induced psychopathology as well as validating putative treatment targets for drug development.

Karin Wrangö