Neuroimmune Psychiatry Group


The research group was 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
  • Keerthana Chinthanathan
    Specialist of Pharmacology 0.5 p, PhD student, MSc
  • Fangling Xuan
    Junior Research Fellow in Neuroimmunology 0.5 p, PhD student, MSc
    Project: Molecular mechanism of microglial migration during brain development and its role in psychiatric disorders
  • Ling Yan
    Junior Research Fellow in Neuroimmunology 0.5 p, PhD student, MSc
    Project: Microglial immunomodulation in stress-associated psychiatric disorders

Career conference „To new hights with a PhD degree!“

Teaduskonverentsi publik

Call for abstracts: scientific conference celebrating the anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine

 Tartu Ülikooli bio- ja siirdemeditsiini instituudi inimese geneetika õppetooli uuring koostöös Tartu Ülikooli Kliinikumi meestekliinikuga näitas, et üllatavalt suurel osal viljatutest meestest on lapsena diagnoositud munandi laskumishäire. Õigeaegne sekkumine aitab tulevikus lahendada viljatusprobleeme ja ennetada haruldaste kasvajate riski.

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