Immune-Psychiatry: roles of microglia and immune cells in schizophrenia

Date: 2022/06/21 - 2022/06/21

Academic Seminar: Immune-Psychiatry: roles of microglia and immune cells in schizophrenia

Speaker: Dr. Li Tian, University of Tartu

Time: 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., June 21st, 2022 (Beijing Time)

Location: via Feishu


Accumulating evidence suggests the association of systemic inflammation as well as glia-mediated neuroinflammation with cognitive and affective behavioral deficits in psychiatric disorders. Heterogeneities of glial cells including both microglia and astrocytes contribute to their varying sensitivities to the same physiological and pathological signals in different brain regions, which underlies their functional relevance for mental disorder development. My research focuses on glia-related mechanisms in psychiatric disorders by using genetic, biochemical and neuroimaging methods to study psychiatric patients and animal stress models. Here, I present our recent findings on this research. In animal research, we study chronic stress-induced glial activation and involvement of glial subpopulations and their target genes in psychiatry-like behaviors using neuroinflammatory models. In clinical research, we analyze various omics data along with patients’ clinical scores on cognitive and pathophysiological functions, to understand the immune-mediated mechanisms on disease onset, development and treatment response of schizophrenia. Our conclusion is that immune cells and genes play pleiotropic roles in shaping the brain structural and functional connectivity that is pivotal for schizophrenia.


Li Tian graduated from Beijing Medical University (now Peking University Medical Center) with a bachelor’s degree in clinical medicine in 1993. In 2001, she received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Helsinki. From 2011 to 2018, she was the research fellow of the Academy of Finland and the associate professor in the Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki. She has been a research professor of neuroimmunology in the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu since 2018. She also worked as a visiting professor in Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, Psychiatry Research Center during 2014-2018. She has jointly and independently supervised 8 doctoral students in the University of Helsinki and University of Tartu. Her team’s major research theme is using both clinical data and animal models in combination with key technological platforms, such as FACS, MRI and 2-photon imaging, RNAseq and behavioral tests, to study microglia-related neuroimmune psychiatry. She has received funding from the European Union, Academy of Finland, China National Natural Science Foundation, Beijing Science and Technology Foundation, and Estonian Research Council. She has published more than 60 SCI papers in international journals so far. Her H index is 26. She has also served as a board member of reviewer or editor for international grants and neuroscience journals. She has received several honors and awards, including the University of Helsinki "Outstanding PhD Thesis Award" (2001), "Beijing HaiJv Overseas Talent Award" (2014), and "Beijing Overseas Expert" (2014).