Reference Centre for behavioural sciences and mental health

Responsible: Dr. Gemma Calamandrei 
phone: (+39) 06 4990 2106


Center activities

There is no health without mental health. The activity of the Center for behavioral sciences and mental health is in line with the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 of the World Health Organization (WHO). We aim to provide more effective leadership and governance for mental health; comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings; implement strategies for promotion and prevention; and strengthened information systems, evidence and research.
Researchers of the Center for behavioral sciences and mental health study the biological and psychosocial bases of mental disorders. Access to large population cohorts, databases and biological samples allows to research risk factors and biomarkers. We also plan new models of prevention and treatment of services as well as promoting well being in the community and contrasting the stigma associated with mental disorders. Conditions and diseases targeted include neurodevelopmental disorders (autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Rett and Tourette syndrome, learning disorders), schizophrenia, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxious syndromes, epilepsy, impulse control disorders and pathological aggression, adaptation disorders, reactive depression, emotional, cognitive and stress-precipitated disorders. Particular emphasis is given to the critical phases of susceptibility to mental disorders such as pregnancy, postpartum, neonatal infant development, adolescence and senescence. Studies on the relationships between mental health and physical health (clinical psychosomatics and psychobiology) are promoted, including studies evaluating the relationship between psychological well-being and pathologies such as obesity, atherosclerosis, sleep disturbances, chronic pain to define the role of genetic and environmental factors and the underlying associations. Particular attention is paid to promoting the active participation of citizens in scientific research.


Organization of the Center

The Center includes two main areas involving basic research in behavioral sciences and clinical/epidemiological studies involving population cohorts.

Behavioral Neuroscience area

Researchers of the Behavioral Neuroscience area have a long-lasting expertise in behavioural phenotyping of rodents (mice and rats) from early life phases to senescence and with the breeding and maintenance of wild-type and transgenic rodent colonies. Over the years the research group has been focusing to develop rodent models mimicking human neuro-psychopathology symptoms, which are characterized by a high degree of eco-ethological relevance. Main fields of research include: aging and neurodegeneration; neurobehavioral and mental disorders; behavioral teratology and toxicology; neurodevelopmental effects of early life stress with short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes.

Clinical-epidemiological area

Clinical-epidemiological research in mental and behavioural health

Director: Dr. Maria Antonietta Stazi
phone: (+39) 06 4990 4155

The Unit carries out research activities aimed at improving the understanding of the determinants and mechanisms underlying mental health and mental and physical well-being, according to a global epidemiological approach that includes prevalence, etiological and prognostic studies, clinical and genetic epidemiology studies, studies on effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in the areas of prevention and treatment, and applied research in mental health services. Some of the Unit's activities concern the development and validation of standardized assessment tools in the psychological and psychiatric fields and the analysis of the intersubjective aspects of psychiatric diagnosis. Mental health promotion interventions are also developed and validated, especially in schools, and priority recommendations and guidelines for the treatment of mental disorders are disseminated.
The Unit conducts epidemiological investigations on patients, on the general and twin population both in a cross sectional perspective and in an epidemiology life course. Other activities concern data modeling for estimating the genetic component (heritability) and its interactions with the environmental component in etiological studies. Furthermore, it manages the biobanking of epidemiological studies and the related ethical-legal aspects.