Join us in congratulating Dr. Daniel Tobiansky who received the Bluma Tischler Post-Doctoral Fellowship from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. This prestigious fellowship award grants $20,400 for one year to MD or PhD graduates carrying out research on the biochemical or genetic aspects of intellectual developmental disorders or other neurological disorders.
Tobiansky, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Kiran K. Soma and Dr. Stan B. Floresco, received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus in Behavioural Neuroendocrinology.
He joined UBC to continue his exploration of how sex steroid hormones influence higher order behaviours and reward seeking. “Kiran Soma is widely known as an expert in behavioural neuroendocrinology, and with a highly productive lab,” says Tobiansky. “I contacted him with the hope of joining his lab.”
Ultimately this decision led him to apply for the fellowship, a decision that Dr. Soma strongly supported. “Daniel is a truly outstanding candidate for this fellowship,” says Soma. “His dissertation research on hormones, behaviour and neural circuitry is incredible. Most excitingly, the main component of his PhD research was just published in Neuropsychopharmacology, a very high-impact journal.”
His proposal will test the novel hypothesis that testosterone is synthesized in the brain (neuro-testosterone) and influences motivation via the dopamine system. Anergia (i.e., a general lack of motivation) is one of the most intractable symptoms of depression. Depression and related disorders, in turn, account for nearly 80 percent of all psychiatric disorders in Canada. In clinical studies, testosterone treatment ameliorates symptoms of depression, but systemic testosterone treatment can increase the risk of prostate cancer and other adverse events. Examining the biochemical pathways and dietary manipulations that specifically increase neuro-testosterone synthesis may provide innovative treatment options for depression without exposing the prostate and other peripheral tissues to testosterone. In addition, these studies have clinical relevance for men being treated for prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer are typically treated with abiraterone and other drugs that reduce androgen synthesis or action. Importantly, abiraterone crosses the blood-brain barrier, but it is unclear whether abiraterone has side effects on the brain or cognition. The proposed studies will shed light on these issues and provide novel insights into the roles of testosterone in mental health.