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Dr. R. Stoop & Prof. B. Gravier

PI of the laboratory: Dr. Ron Stoop (CNP) & Prof. Bruno Gravier (SMPP)
Email:, Tél: 021 643 69 54
Email:, Tél: 021 643 69 49

Department: Psychiatry/Physiology
Address: CNP, Route de Cery, 1008 Prilly, Lausanne

 Ron Stoop


Aggression and Violence: from Clinical experience to Neurobiological model

Description of Project:
The study of aggressive behavior and violence is a challenging new field in neurobiology that is rapidly gaining large interest. A successful neurobiological approach will depend on the development of efficient animal models for different types of aggressive human behavior. The Centre of Psychiatric Neuroscience (CNP) was founded in 2002 in Cery to promote translational research between Swiss neuroscience and psychiatry. Its recently established neighbor, the "Service de Médecine et de Psychiatrie Pénitentiaires" (SMPP) is responsible for mental and general health issues of, on a yearly basis, about 2600 prisoners in the Canton Vaud (600 places in 4 prisons, from custody to long term sentences). In a newly started collaboration between researchers from CNP and SMPP, we are currently in the process of identifying clinical questions and hypotheses that are amenable to testing in patients and animal models of aggression and violence.

Techniques / Methods:
This study will imply a clinical orientation within the SMPP that will be combined with laboratory study of animal behavior at the Centre for Psychiatric Neuroscience in Cery of an animal model pertinent to pathological behaviors that carries a gradient of impulsivity in combination with altered tolerance to frustration: The Roman High-(RHA) and Low-(RLA) avoidance rats have been selected for good vs poor performance in acquiring two-way avoidance behavior (Steimer and Driscoll, 2005) RHA rats are more impulsive and sensation(novelty)-seekers and they seem also to be more aggressive towards their conspecifics. The development of the animal model will include behavioral measurements of rodents in different circumstances which can include telemetrical devices to capture heart rate, blood pressure and different methods of electrophysiology. The human study may include measurements to assess autonomic nervous system activation in and HPA axis activation through saliva measurements and/or heart rate measurement in human subjects involved in different tasks.

Expected outcome:
The clinical orientation should lead to a first classification of certain types of human aggressive behaviors that can potentially be modeled by rodent animal models. In a parallel laboratory practice, these may be tested in different animal models for the observed behaviors.

Nelson & Trainor, Neural mechanisms of aggression, Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 8:536, 2007.
Steimer T & Driscoll P. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2005 Feb;29(1):99-112.

Selection criteria: Because of the sensitive nature of the clinical rotation, interested candidates will be interviewed before they can be accepted.

Link to the group web site

Rue du Bugnon 9 - CH-1005 Lausanne  - Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 51 00  -  Fax +41 21 692 51 05
Swiss University