Christoph Kellendonk, PhD

Departments and Divisions

  • Department of Psychiatry
    Division of Molecular Therapeutics

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics in Psychiatry
Christoph Kellendonk, PhD

The Kellendonk laboratory uses mouse genetic tools in an effort to understand the biology that underlies cognitive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is characterized by three symptom clusters: the cognitive, negative and positive symptoms. While the positive symptoms – which include disordered thought processes, hallucinations and delusions – are the most characteristic feature of the disorder, such symptoms are more difficult to model in the mouse. In contrast, cognitive and negative symptoms of the disorder – including deficits in working memory and motivation – have behavioral readouts in mice that are more homologous to humans. Cognitive and negative symptoms are poorly understood, difficult to treat and their severities are a better predictor for the long-term prognosis of patients than the degree of positive symptoms.

Our approach uses observations made in patients with schizophrenia (e.g. with brain imaging) and then seeks to “model” these observations as closely as possible in the mouse. This allows for establishing causality between a specific brain alteration and changes in behavior. Using this approach we hope to achieve three main goals:

1) To better understand the basic neuronal mechanisms that support cognitive and motivated behaviors

2) To inspire new studies in humans based on observations made in the mouse

3) To identify new treatment strategies for enhancing cognition and motivation

Lab Locations

  • Kolb Research Annex

    40 Haven Ave
    3rd Floor, Room 355
    New York, NY 10032
    (646) 774-8602

Research Interests

  • Models of Psychiatric Disorders
  • Neurobiology of Disease
  • Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
  • Neurogenetics

Lab Members

  • Val Monrose, Lab Manager Kolb 3
  • Abigail Clark,
  • Eduardo Gallo, PhD
  • Fernanda Carvalho,
  • Jozsef Meszaros,
  • Scott Bolkan,
  • Sarah Canetta, PhD
  • Lindsay Kenney,


  1. Bolkan S., Stujenske J.M., Parnaudeau S., Spellman T.J, Rauffenbart C., Abbas A., Harris A.Z., Gordon J.A., Kellendonk C. (2017) Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance Nature Neuroscience doi:10.1038/nn.4568
  2. Carvalho Poyraz F., Holzner E., Bailey M.R., Meszaros J., Kenney L., Kheirbek M.A., Balsam P.D., Kellendonk C. (2016) Decreasing striato-pallidal pathway function enhances motivation by energizing the initiation of goal directed action J. Neuroscience 36(22):5988-6001
  3. Canetta S., Bolkan S., Padilla-Coreano N., Song L.J., Sahn R., Harrison N.L., Gordon J.A., Brown A., Kellendonk C. (2016) Maternal immune activation leads to selective functional deficits in offspring parvalbumin interneurons. Molecular Psychiatry 21(7):956-68
  4. Gallo E.F., Salling M.C., Feng B., Morón J.A., Harrison N.L., Javitch J.A., Kellendonk C. (2015) Upregulation of dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens indirect pathway increases locomotion but does not reduce alcohol consumption. Neuropsychopharmacology 40:1609-18.
  5. Parnaudeau S, Taylor K, Bolkan SS, Ward RD, Balsam PD, Kellendonk C. (2015) Mediodorsal thalamus hypofunctionimpairs flexible goal-directed behavior. Biological Psychiatry. 77:445-453.
  6. Cazorla M, de Carvalho FD, Chohan MO, Shegda M, Chuhma N, Rayport S, Ahmari SE, Moore H, Kellendonk C. (2014) Dopamine D2 receptors regulate the anatomical and functional balance of basal ganglia circuitry. Neuron. 81:153-164.
  7. Parnaudeau S, O'Neill PK, Bolkan SS, Ward RD, Abbas AI, Roth BL, Balsam PD, Gordon JA, Kellendonk C. (2013) Inhibition of mediodorsal thalamus disrupts thalamofrontal connectivity and cognition. Neuron. 77:1151-1162.
  8. Cazorla M, Shegda M, Ramesh B, Harrison NL, Kellendonk C. (2012) Striatal D2 receptors regulate dendritic morphology of medium spiny neurons via Kir2 channels. J Neuroscience. 32:2398-2409.

For a complete list of publications, please visit