Laboratory of Neurobiology

Our research aim is to understand brain-mind connection. We believe that is possible to localize specific mind functions in the brain and then to reveal their molecular and cellular underpinnings. The window to understand mind is learning and memory that can be successfully studied in experimental animals. At the molecular and cellular levels, synaptic plasticity appears to provide a plausible explanation for those phenomena. Thirty  ago, together with H.J. Matthies and his colleagues from Magdeburg and simultaneously with K.V. Anokhin and his co-workers in Moscow, we discovered gene expression in the mammalian brain in learning. The first such gene was c-fos, encoding a component of transcription factor AP-1. This led us to identify c-Fos/AP-1 such target genes in activated neurons as TIMP-1 (tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases) and MMP-9 (matrix metalloproteinase). Over the last fifteen years we have shown that MMP-9 is produced and released at the excitatory synapses in response to enhanced neuronal activity to play a paramount role in the synaptic plasticity, learning and memory as well as in neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy, alcohol addiction, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Presently, our major research effort is focused on MMP-9 and its fundamental role in controlling morphological and functional plasticity of the excitatory synapses, especially in the central nucleus of the amygdala, which we have implicated as pivotal for the appetitive learning.


Head of laboratory


Leszek Kaczmarek


Bogna Badyra


Sajad Shabhazi

PhD student

Karolina Protokowicz

PhD student

Iwona Sirocka





  • 2021-2023 The National Centre for Research and Development, NCBiR | Use of MMP inhibitor to develop innovative therapy to prevent post-stroke and post traumatic brain injury epileptogenesis (with Pikralida company) (L. Kaczmarek)
  • 2020-2024 National Science Center, NCN OPUS | Understanding alcohol relapse through whole brain imaging (M. Stefaniuk)
  • 2019-2022 NCN OPUS | The role of MKLs in the regulation of gene expression, synapse development, and neurodevelopmental disorders (K. Kalita)
  • 2018-2023 Foundation for Polish Science | BRAINCITY – Centre of Excellence for Neural Plasticity and Brain Disorders, strategic partner European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
  • 2018-2023 NCN MAESTRO | MMP-9 in shaping of synaptic plasticity: An individual dendritic spine approach (L. Kaczmarek)
  • 2018-2021 The National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) ERA-NET MISST | Multi-scale investigation of synaptic dysfunction after stroke (L. Kaczmarek; coordinator: V. Nagerl)
  • 2016-2023 Foundation for Polish Science | Pursuing addiction: appetitive learning and synaptic plasticity in the amygdala, Project TEAM (PO IR), (L. Kaczmarek)
  • 2018-2021 NCN SONATA | Localization of Ca2+ signals involved in gliotransmitter release (P. Michaluk)





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