Cornelius Gross


Dr. Gross was trained in structural and molecular biology before working as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of René Hen at Columbia University where he began his work dissecting the role of serotonin in the control of anxiety-related behavior. There he discovered a developmental role for serotonin in determining life-long anxiety-related behavior and identified the serotonin receptor responsible for the therapeutic effects of antidepressants. Earlier in his career he served for two years as a science teacher at a public high school in New York City, where he gained an appreciation of the benefits and challenges of communicating science to a lay audience.

Since joining EMBL as a group leader in 2003, Dr. Gross'research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of anxiety-like behavior in mice. He is particularly interested in the role of early developmental processes in setting the behavior of the animal in adulthood. The laboratory is actively pursuing several related questions within this field, including 1) how do perturbations in the early wiring of the brain alter later anxiety-related behavior, 2) what molecular mechanisms act to moderate the long-term impact of adverse early experiences, and 3) how can pharmacological treatment during adulthood reverse or correct changes in brain function caused by aberrant development. The laboratory is applying wide range of molecular genetic tools to address these questions, including conditional gene targeting, the analysis of natural genetic variations, pharmacology, behavioral analysis, and bioinformatics. By studying these phenomena Dr. Gross hopes to better understand how early experience and genetic predispositions interact to influence a person's personality and risk for mental illness.

Selected Publications

Carola, V., Frazzetto, G., Gross, C. (2005) Identifying interactions between genes and early environment in the mouse. Genes Brain Behavior, in press.

Klemenhagen, K., Gordon, J., David, D., Hen, R., Gross, C. (2005). Increased fear response to contextual cues in mice lacking the 5-HT1A receptor. Neuropsychopharmacology, in press.

Walitza, S., Renner, T.J., Dempfle, A., Konrad K., Wewetzer, C., Halbach, A., Herpertz-Dahlmann, B., Remschmidt, H., Smidt, J., Linder, M., Flierl, L., Knölker U., Friedel, S., Schäfer, H., Gross, C., Hebebrand, J., A Warnke, A., Lesch, K.-P. (2005) Transmission disequilibrium of polymorphic variants in the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 gene in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Mol. Psychiatry, in press.

Gross, C. and Hen, R. (2004). The developmental origins of anxiety. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5, 545-552.

Santarelli, L., Saxe, M., Gross, C., Surget, A., Battaglia, F., Dulawa, S., Weisstaub, N., Lee, J., Duman, R., Arancio, O., Belzung, C., and Hen, R. (2003). Requirement of hippocampal neurogenesis for the behavioral effects of antidepressants. Science, 301, 805-809.

Gross, C., Zhuang, X., Stark, K., Ramboz, S., Oosting, R., Kirby, L., Beck, S., and Hen, R. (2002) Serotonin 1A receptor acts during development to establish normal anxiety-like behavior in the adult. Nature 416, 396-400.