Kabbaj Lab

Dr Kabbaj
Mohamed Kabbaj, Ph.D.

Mohamed Kabbaj, Ph.D.

University of Bordeaux II, France
Florida State University
College of Medicine
Dept. of Biomedical Sciences
1115 West Call Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4300
Office: (850) 5495
Lab: (850) 644-4930
Dr. Kabbaj's Faculty Profile

Research Projects

  1. Neurobiology of sex differences: A topic for which we made and continue to make a significant contribution is the studies of sex differences in anxiety and depression, and the different responses of male and female subjects to antidepressant drugs. My interest in this topic was initiated a long time ago, even before these studies were considered a high priority for NIH. Some examples of our contribution include the determination of the brain site and mechanisms of the antidepressant effects of testosterone and the first report of sex differences in ketamine antidepressant effects and the identifications of some of the mechanisms mediating these sex differences. Recently, we published an eNeuro manuscript, which made a lot of headlines showing that ketamine can be a potential treatment for alcoholism in male but not female subjects.
    1. Carrier, N., & Kabbaj, M. (2013). Sex differences in the antidepressant-like effects of ketamine. Neuropharmacology, 70, 27-34.
    2. Carrier, N., Saland, S., Duclot, F., He, H., Mercer, R., & Kabbaj, M. (2015). The anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects of testosterone and estrogen in gonadectomized male rats. Biological Psychiatry, 78(4): 259-69.
    3. Duclot, F., & Kabbaj, M. (2015) The estrous cycle surpasses sex differences in regulating the transcriptome in the rat medial prefrontal cortex and reveals an underlying role of early growth response 1. Genome Biology (16): 256.
    4. Strong, CE., Wright KN., & Kabbaj, M. (2019) Sex and Individual Differences in Alcohol Intake Are Associated with Differences in Ketamine Self-Administration Behaviors and Nucleus Accumbens Dendritic Spine Density. eNeuro Vol 6, issue 6 epub.
  2. Neurobiology of social behaviors in prairie voles: Much of what we know about the role of peptides and monoaminergic neurotransmission’s role in social behaviors come from studies in the prairie voles. I believe that our group has made significant impact in this field of research by first reporting a role of epigenetic regulation in social bonding in this unique specie. We showed that we can cha nge social behaviors using HDAC inhibitors, and thus we gave some solid scientific background for clinicians to think about using some of these drugs in the treatment of ASD and schizophrenia. Some of these drugs are already used to treat medical conditions such as epilepsy and bipolar disorders (sodium valproate as example) and it will be easier to try them in other conditions where social behaviors are altered (i.e. ASD and schizophrenia). Furthermore, our group was first to publish a transciptomic study identifying genes in prairie voles implicated in social bonding in both sexes.
    1. Liu, Y., Aragona, B. J., Young, K. A., Dietz, D. M., Kabbaj, M., Mazei-Robison, M., Nestler, E. J., & Wang, Z. (2010). Nucleus accumbens dopamine mediates amphetamine-induced impairment of social bonding in a monogamous rodent species. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107(3), 1217-1222.
    2. Wang, H., Duclot, F., Liu, Y., Wang, Z., & Kabbaj, M. (2013). Histone deacetylase inhibitors facilitate partner preference formation in female prairie voles. Nature Neuroscience, 16(7), 919-924. Selected for F1000.
    3. Sailer L, Duclot F, Wang Z, Kabbaj M. (2019) Consequences of prenatal exposure to valproic acid in the socially monogamous prairie voles. Sci Rep. Feb 21; 9(1):2453.
    4. Duclot F, Lindsay S, Koutakis P, Wang Z, Kabbaj M (2022) Transcriptomic Regulations Underlying Pair-bond Formation and Maintenance in the Socially Monogamous Male and Female Prairie Vole. Biological Psychiatry, Jan 1;91(1):141-15

    Techniques used in Dr. Kabbaj’s Laboratory


    • In situ hybridization (single and double)
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Radioimmunoassays
    • Westerm Blot
    • Northerm Blot
    • RT-PCR and quantitative real time RT-PCR
    • Whole Genome Sequencing
    • ChIP assays
    • ChIP on chips
    • Proteomics and metabolomics


    • Locomotor activity
    • Tests of anxiety (Light dark box, elevated plus maze, open field)
    • Learned helplessness
    • Tests for learning and memory
    • Conditioned place preference
    • Operant chambers of drug self-administration

    Current Laboratory Members

    Dr. Florian Duclot, University of Montpelier, 2009 Research Faculty 1, Biomedical Sciences Department

    Dr. Samantha Saland, University of Iowa, 2009 Laboratory Assistant, Biomedical Sciences Department

    Devin Hagarty, California State University Bakersfield, 2017 Graduate Student, Neuroscience - Biomedical Sciences Track

    Michelle Crawford, California State University Bakersfield, 2020 Graduate Student, Neuroscience - Biomedical Sciences Track

    Sarah Jenning, The College of Charleston, 2020 Graduate Student, Neuroscience - Biomedical Sciences Track

    Actual Funding

    R01 MH125408 (PI: Kabbaj, MPI: Wang)
    Breaking bonds in prairie voles
    This project tests the overall hypothesis that breaking bonds in prairie voles alters specific brain circuits and leads to negative consequences on social behaviors.
    RO1 DA043461 (PI: Kabbaj, MPI: Zhou and Lobo)
    Neurobiology of ketamine addiction
    This project examines the neurobiology behinds the reinforcing properties of low doses of ketamine in male and female rats.
    RO1 MH115188 (PI: Zhou, MPI: Kabbaj)
    (1 year no cost-extension) 1 calendar
    Molecular, synaptic and circuits basis for 14-3-3 dysfunction induced behavioral deficits The major goal is to investigate neuropathological mechanisms associated with disruption of 14-3-3- proteins in mice and potential relevance to schizophrenia

    List of publications: