Our lab seeks to understand the key molecular and neuronal mechanisms that underlie the regulation of COGNITION AND EMOTION . We use a broad range of imaging and recording techniques in mice to understand how activity in relevant NEURONAL CIRCUITS is regulated in vitro and in vivo. We use cutting-edge genetic and molecular techniques to perturb defined components of the signaling machinery in those neuronal circuits to dissect the detailed neurobiological mechanisms. We are particularly interested in the function of neuropeptides. 




Neuropeptides are signaling molecules that are synthetized by neurons and serve as  messengers between neurons and other cell types in the brain. More than 100 different neuropeptides are known so far, however only a minority of these has been thoroughly investigated.  Our lab seeks to discover new functions of neuropeptides in the regulation of cognition and emotion. Furthermore, we investigate how neuropeptides shape neuronal activity and synaptic neurotransmission through the modulation of ion channels and synaptic release machinery components. We use and create cutting-edge tools to reveal how these molecular mechanisms contribute to the functions of neuropeptides in vitro and in vivo. 


Photo: MedUni Wien/feelimage




The Melzer Lab uses a broad range of techniques to understand the function and mechanisms of neuronal circuits and  neuropeptides, including fiber photometric imaging in freely moving mice, in vitro patch-clamp recordings, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic manipulations, development and imaging of new molecular sensors, optogenetic and chemogenetic investigation of neuronal cell types and various behavioral tasks to test emotional and cognitive functions of brain circuits. 


Ongoing Projects:

#1: ERC-StG (2022-2027): Neuropeptidergic modulation of synaptic circuits in fear and anxiety

In this project, we explores the role of neuropeptides in the regulation of fear, fear memory and anxiety. We investigate which neuropeptides are released in the brain in response to threats, aversive and anxiogenic stimuli and how these neuropeptides modulate the activity and molecular machinery of neurons in relevant neuronal networks. Detailed neuronal mechanisms will be tested for their function in the expression of fearful and anxiogenic behavior.


#2: WWTF VRG (2022-2027): Neuronal and neuropeptidergic mechanisms for flexible control of learning and memory

This project explores how selected neuropeptides modulate learning and memory. We are aiming to understand how neuropeptides modulate neuronal networks that are involved in the formation and retrieval of positive and negative association memories. Relevant behavioral tests are employed in combination with genetic and optical tools to reveal the underlying molecular pathways and visualize network computations that contribute to the processing of relevant sensory and affective information. The project is generously funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF). More information on the funding source can be found here: www.wwtf.at