Introduction

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The University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group forms part of the Department of Pharmacology and develops activities mainly at the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing at the Campus of Leioa. Its origin is the research line started in 1982 and its current Head is J. Javier Meana.

The Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group is part of the Biomedical Research Network in Mental Health (CIBERSAM), an initiative of the Spanish National Institute of Health Carlos III consisting of clinical and basic investigation groups devoted to the cooperative research of the mental health from a translational viewpoint. This group is also part of the Initial Phases of Psychosis research area of the Biocruces Bizkaia Health Research Institute, leaded by the Department of Psychiatry at the Cruces University Hospital.

The Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group has been working since 1986 on a research line focused on the evaluation of central nervous system alterations in psychiatric disorders. One of the research lines studies the involvement of different neuroreceptors on affective and psychotic disorders. This line of work encompasses two important research areas: the neurochemical alterations evaluated directly in the post-mortem brain of subjects suffering from depression, schizophrenia or other serious mental disorders and the use of animal models, preferably in vivo, to study the response of different neurochemical parameters to treatment with antidepressants or antipsychotics. The human brain post-mortem research is developed through an agreement with the Basque Institute of Legal Medicine. This allowed the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group to create a brain collection containing samples from more than a thousand normal control and pathologic brains with their corresponding diagnoses. Both research lines benefit mutually and allow for the experimental designs to be clearly oriented towards the treatment of specifically human mental pathologies such as depression or schizophrenia.

Concurrently, the incorporation of new stable researches allowed the group to develop a number of research lines related to disorders associated to alcohol, opiate and cannabis abuse. In fact, one of the areas of interest is the mechanisms that link the chronic consumption of cannabis and the risk of psychosis.

The Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group, through the Ramón y Cajal Program, has contributed to the attraction of several researchers established abroad. This rose the critical mass of researchers and the development of new lines in the Department of Pharmacology, for instance, in the study of the autism spectrum disorders.

As a University group, the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group participates in training of graduates in Medicine, Pharmacy, Odontology and Biochemistry as well as that of postgraduates through its involvement in different Masters Degrees and PhD Programs. The Group offers possibilities for the supervised development of Final Degree projects, Masters Dissertations and PhD Theses.

The values that define this Research Group are excellence, internal and external collaboration, the transparency in its activities and translational approach of its research.