Neuroimmune Psychiatry Group


The research group is led by Li Tian who is a Research Professor in the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu. Li Tian has previously received funding from the Academy of Finland, China National and Beijing Natural Science Foundations, Estonian Research Council, and European Union. Our group has ongoing collaborations with scientists from several universities in Europe, China, and north America. The major research theme of our group is neuroimmune psychiatry. Our research topics cover characterization of heterogeneous glial target genes using genetic mouse lines with stress models, as well as with patients of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Alongside reaching scientific goals of our research theme, we aim to develop innovative research platforms of multicolor flow cytometry and live imaging platforms for neuroimmune psychiatric research.


Research topicNeuroimmune crosstalk in mental disorders

Mind-immune connection has been an increasingly attended research theme in neuroscience in recent years. My group focuses on the crosstalk between glial cells and neurons in regulation of normal brain development and behaviors, as well as their roles in neuropsychiatric disorders. The overarching aim of our study is to find out immune-related biomarkers and risk genes in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression, and to depict the underlying biological mechanisms on their patho-etiologies. We study both human patients and rodent disease models and use cutting-edge genetic and laboratorial approaches to holistically evaluate the brain-immune crosstalk. Our research methods include transgenic animal models and various animal and laboratory experiments, such as in vivo and in vitro imaging, cellular and molecular assays, behavioral tests, bioinformatics, as well as various clinical approaches including genetic data to explore the role of candidate immune genes in regulation of the biological mechanism of mental disorders. 




Estonian Research Council: Unravelling mind-immune connection for mental disorders (SMVBS17528T, 01.01.2018−31.12.2022) 


Main publications



  • Cell-Cell Interactions: A Practical Approach. Fleming, T. (ed.) IRL Press, Oxford
    Chapter 5: Leukocyte cell adhesion interactions.
    Gahmberg, C. G., Valmu, L., Hilden, T. J., Ihanus, E., Tian, L., Nyman, H., Lehto, U., Uppala, A., Ranta, T.-M. and Koivunen, E. (2001)
  • Neural system-Immune system interactions. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
    Chapter 8: Influential effects of neuronal regulation of immune cells on brain diseases.
    Li Tian. p13-33 (2014)


  • Li Tian
    Professor in Neuroimmunology, PhD
    737 4418
  • Marge Pärn
    Laboratory Assistant
  • Keerthana Chinthanathan
    PhD student, MSc
  • Fangling Xuan
    PhD student, MSc
    Project: Molecular mechanism of microglial migration during brain development and its role in psychiatric disorders
  • Ling Yan
    PhD student, MSc
    Project: Microglial immunomodulation in stress-associated psychiatric disorders
#research #for society

Doctoral defence: Marilin Ivask “Transcriptomic and metabolic changes in the WFS1-deficient mouse model”

On 29 Novembril at 15:00 Marilin Ivask will defend her doctoral thesis „Transcriptomic and metabolic changes in the WFS1-deficient mouse model“.

Seminar by Prof Gregory Lavieu

Seminar by Professor Gregory Lavieu