Stanley J. Watson, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Professor, Michigan Neuroscience Institute
Ralph Waldo Gerard Professor of Neurosciences, Department of Psychiatry

2022 MBNI Building 
205 Zina Pitcher Place 
Ann Arbor , MI 48109-5720

(734) 763-3725

Administrative Contact

Saeedeh Noroozi [email protected]

Areas of Interest

The emotional regulation of complex behaviors such as reinforcement, feeding and stress are central to the proper functioning of both animals and humans. The Watson laboratory focuses on the central nervous system (CNS) circuits and cellular systems that participate and regulate these states in the brains of individuals with severe mental illness.

As the following projects illustrate, using a variety of molecular, anatomical, behavioral and pharmacological approaches, it is possible to focus on key circuits and molecules of interests.:

1. Depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia are all studied in postmortem human brains using microarrays across several regions of the CNS. Families of genes have been found to be dysregulated in these three major illnesses and are being further evaluated in animal studies. Most recently Watson’s team and other members of the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disease Research Consortium have shown significant changes in fibroblast growth factor, mitochondria and immune gene families in major depression, bipolar disease, and schizophrenia respectively. The next step is for broad-based genetic studies to be undertaken in large-sized patient sets.

2. Stress and substance abuse responsive systems have been mapped in rodent CNS using in situ hybridization of mRNA and intronic RNA for a large number of candidate molecules. By combining in situ regulatory studies with track tracing and other anatomical tools, the Watson lab has described how the brain responds to stress. Mixing these basic strategies with genetically altered mice has provided rich perspectives on the roles of the glucocorticoid receptor in mice. Similar analyses in high versus low responder rats have proven powerful tools to reveal propensity to use drugs of abuse, and for understanding some aspects of maternal and risk-taking behaviors. The regulation of important neural circuits is clearly altered in such animals.

Published Articles or Reviews

The role of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptor DNA methylation in antenatal depression and infant stress regulation.
Galbally M, Watson SJ, van IJzendoorn M, Saffery R, Ryan J, de Kloet ER, Oberlander TF, Lappas M, Lewis AJ. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020 May;115:104611. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104611. Epub 2020 Feb 8.

Maternal depression and the emotional availability of mothers at six months postpartum: Findings from the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) pregnancy cohort.
MacMillan KK, Lewis AJ, Watson SJ, Galbally M. J Affect Disord. 2020 Apr 1;266:678-685. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.109. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Is intimate partner violence more common in pregnant women with severe mental illness? A retrospective study. Suparare L, Watson SJ, Binns R, Frayne J, Galbally M. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2020 May;66(3):225-231. doi: 10.1177/0020764019897286. Epub 2020 Jan 6.

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with depressive symptoms in pregnancy.
Redhead K, Walsh J, Galbally M, Newnham JP, Watson SJ, Eastwood P. Sleep. 2019 Nov 29. pii: zsz270. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz270. [Epub ahead of print]

Nosocomial transmission of influenza: A retrospective cross-sectional study using next generation sequencing at a hospital in England (2012-2014).
Blackburn RM, Frampton D, Smith CM, Fragaszy EB, Watson SJ, Ferns RB, Binter Š, Coen PG, Grant P, Shallcross LJ, Kozlakidis Z, Pillay D, Kellam P, Hué S, Nastouli E, Hayward AC; ICONIC group.

Blockade of the cholecystokinin CCK-2 receptor prevents the normalization of anxiety levels in the rat.
Ballaz SJ, Bourin M, Akil H, Watson SJ. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Jan 10;96:109761. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.109761. Epub 2019 Sep 14.

Electrophysiological evaluation of extracellular spermine and alkaline pH on synaptic human GABAA receptors.
Limon A, Delbruck E, Yassine A, Pandya D, Myers RM, Barchas JD, Lee F, Schatzberg, Watson SJ, Akil H, Bunney WE, Vawter MP, Sequeira A. Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 5;9(1):218. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0551-1.

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