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Samia Joca


Associate Professor, Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Denmark

During her AIAS-COFUND Fellowship Sâmia Joca worked on the project 'Investigation on the rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) and its mechanisms'.

Project at AIAS

Depression is a multifactorial and highly prevalent disease, with serious consequences to the individual and the society. Despite the wide variety of antidepressant drugs available, they all present a delayed therapeutic effect, and are not effective in about 40% of patients. Thus, research into new drugs with faster onset of action and overall improved therapeutic profile is an urgent need.

Our group recently showed that Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotomimetic cannabinoid present in the Cannabis sativa plant, seems to be a promising compound, since it induced fast and sustained antidepressant effects in animal models. The mechanisms related to CBD effects, however, remain largely unknown. Therefore, our research aims to further investigate the therapeutic potential of CBD in depression models, and understand its molecular mechanisms, using state of the art preclinical techniques, molecular and pharmacological tools.

Since CBD has already proven efficacy for some specific neuropsychiatric conditions in humans, we believe that the study of its complex molecular properties can pave the way for a better understanding of depression neurobiology and the development of the next generation of antidepressants.

Short bio

I am a Pharmacologist interested in the neurobiology of stress-related psychiatric disorders, primarily depression and anxiety. Over the past years, I have studied the neurobiological mechanisms associated to behavioral responses to stress in animals, using pharmacological, genetic and molecular approaches, with the aim to: 1. identify new molecular targets related to stress resilience and antidepressant effects; 2. identify potential new and more effective antidepressants and characterize their mechanism of action.

Project title:

Investigation on the rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) and its mechanisms

Area of research:

Behavioral pharmacology

Fellowship period:

01 Oct 2018 – 31 Mar 2020