EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2006
Klaus-Peter Lesch, University of Würzburg, Germany
Klaus-Peter Lesch is a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Psycho330therapy at the University of Würzburg. Since the early days of his clinical training he developed a strong interest in the neurobiological foundation of psychiatric disorders and neuropsychopharmacology. In 1990, during a Research Fellowship at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), Bethesda, this interest was further shaped by applying molecular and genetic engineering strategies in his approach to psychobiology, psychopathology, and psychopharmacology. After his return, he considered himself privileged to contribute to the neuroscience initiative of the University of Würzburg, which provided him with the framework of an excellent interdisciplinary research environment.
The focus of his group's research has long been on the serotonin system of the brain and its impact on a wide spectrum of psychiatric illness, including disorders of attention, cognition, and emotion regulation, as well as their treatment. Apart from his dedication to basic and clinical psychopharmacology, the extent of his work ranges from studies on neuroendocrine dysregulation in depression and the role of postreceptor signal transduction in psychopharmacologic drug action to investigations on the neurobiology of the serotonin receptor subtype 1A and serotonin transporter in anxiety and aggression.
Over the years some of the results of his group's work led to new insights into the psychobiology of personality, behavior, and psychiatric disorders. In his approach to science he continues to be strongly committed to bridge the sizeable gap between basic molecular and clinically applicable research. His work attempts to integrate pertinent research strategies to elucidate mechanisms of altered intra- and interneuronal communication and their impact on the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders with the goal to identify final common pathways, which could be targeted by novel treatments. This integration spans the application of a wide spectrum of techniques involving genetics, neurobiology, and functional imaging in humans and animal models, such as rodent and non-human primates, in order to arrive at a better understanding of the relations among functional genomics, proteomics, and cellomics as well as the interaction of the environment with the brain's plasticity, connectivity, and ultimately, function.