Developing translational biological psychiatry: learning from history to build the future

  • Konstantin Demin Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Institute of Experimental Medicine, Almazov National Medical Research Centre, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Laboratory of Preclinical Bioscreening, Russian Research Center for Radiology and Surgical Technologies, Pesochny, Russian Federation; Faculty of Biology, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Darya Meshalkina Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Institute of Experimental Medicine, Almazov National Medical Research Centre, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Laboratory of Preclinical Bioscreening, Russian Research Center for Radiology and Surgical Technologies, Pesochny, Russian Federation
  • Anton Lakstygal Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Faculty of Biology, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Allan Kalueff Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Institute of Experimental Medicine, Almazov National Medical Research Centre, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; Laboratory of Preclinical Bioscreening, Russian Research Center for Radiology and Surgical Technologies, Pesochny, Russian Federation; The International Zebrafish Neuroscience Research Consortium (ZNRC), Slidell, LA, USA; Laboratory of Translational Biopsychiatry, Research Institute of Physiology and Basic Medicine, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation; ZENEREI Research Center, Slidell, LA, USA; School of Pharmacy, Southwest University, Chongqing, China; Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation


Psychiatric disorders are among the most complex human disorders that, albeit often difficult to diagnose and treat, are widespread in modern society. Biological psychiatry studies biological functions of the central nervous system as mental disorders develop. Today’s biological psychiatry is facing multiple conceptual problems that prevent our deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis and delay the invention of new treatments. Thus, providing a historical context to this rapidly developing field may help scientists better understand the existing challenges and their potential solutions. Here, we discuss the main conceptual problems and paradigms of biological psychiatry, including the lack of reproducibility and/or valid theories, through an historical overview of its role in addressing theoretical and clinical questions. We propose a wider use of the translational approach in psychiatry to expand our analyses of psychiatric disorders to other species, and as a tool to create and further develop theories and concepts in this field.


biological psychiatry, translational medicine, history of psychiatry, modern psychiatry, conceptual issues in psychiatry


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How to Cite
Demin, K., Meshalkina, D., Lakstygal, A., & Kalueff, A. (2018). Developing translational biological psychiatry: learning from history to build the future. Biological Communications, 62(4), 278–292.
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