Mª Fuencisla Pilar Cuéllar

  • IBBTEC. c/ Albert Einstein, 22; 39011 Santander
  • mariafuencisla.pilar@unican.es
  • 942 206 860
  • Neurobiological Basis of the Mechanism of Action of Drugs acting at the Central Nervous System
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Department of Cell & Molecular Signalling

​Fuencisla Pilar is Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and member of the Research Group "Neurobiological Bases of the Mechanism of Action of Drugs acting on the Central Nervous System" of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, University of Cantabria and the group CB/07/09/0029 of the Biomedical Research Networking Centres of Mental Health (CIBERSAM), led by Professor Ángel Pazos. Dr. Pilar obtained the Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of León in 1998 and the Doctorate from the same University in 2006 in the field of neuroscience. In 2007, she joined Prof. Pazos' group (University of Cantabria, UC), as a CIBERSAM researcher. During that period, she focused her research on the role of modulation of 5-HT2A receptors in the treatment of depression, in addition to the involvement of neuroplastic processes in the antidepressant effect. In 2011, she carried out a postdoctoral stay in the Molecular Pharmacology group of Dr. González-Maeso (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA), studying of the implication of the 5-HT2A/mGlu2 dimer in the neurobiology of schizophrenia. Currently, her research activity is focused on the study of the mechanism of action of fast-acting antidepressant drugs such as cannabidiol and ketamine, focusing on aspects related to neuroplasticity and neuroinflammation. She is co-IP of two national projects SAF2015-67457-R and RTI2018-097534-B-I00. Regarding the academic activity, she teaches Pharmacology in the Degree of Medicine and the "Master's Degree in Initiation in Research in Mental Health" (CIBERSAM) and "Master's Degree in Molecular Biology and Medicine" (UC/UPV). She is also secretary of the Bioethics Committee of the UC.

Neurobiological Basis of the Mechanism of Action of Drugs acting at the Central Nervous System

Research lines 

The main research line of the group deals with the neurochemical and neuroplastic signals involved in the pathogeny of neuropsychiatric diseases (major depression, schizophrenia) and, associated to that,  in the mechanism of action of antidepressant and antipsychotic  drugs. The goals of our neuropharmacological research include the study of: 
  • Modulation of neuroproliferation and neuroplasticity pathways as a mechanism of action of antidepressants.
  • Involvement of the aminergic and cannabinoid systems in depression.
  • Preclinical evaluation of potential antidepressants in animal models.
  • Involvement of neuroinflammation in depression and antidepressant actions.
  • Mechanism of action of molecules with rapid antidepressant effect.

For this purpose, studies in laboratory animals, models of depression and psychosis, and in blood and postmortem samples from depressed and schizophrenic patients are carried out. Behavioural, pharmacological (in vivo assays, receptor labeling), cell biology (immunocytochemistry, neurogenesis), biochemical (second messengers, G proteins), electrophysiological (in vivo and slice recordings) and molecular approaches (gen silencing, transfected receptors) are used.

Other sublines of research of the group include: 
    • The neurobiological basis of the analgesic responses induced by antidepressants
    • The identification of the intracellular signaling mechanisms associated to 5-HT receptor subtypes
    • The analysis of polymorphisms for proteins of relevance for the etiopathogeny of depressive disorders 
    • The characterization of animal models of psychiatric disorders


    • CICYT, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Cannabidiol como acelerador de la respuesta farmacológica antidepresiva: una vía hacia la identificación de los mecanismos celulares implicados en la depresión (SAF2015-67457-R). Enero 2016-Diciembre 2018.
    • CICYT, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Fármacos antidepresivos y dianas de señalización intracelular: implicación de mecanismos de proliferación (SAF07-61862). Octubre 2007-Septiembre 2012
    • Neuroplasticity mechanisms involved in the fast antidepressant response of 5-HT4 receptor agonists: role of the Wnt-b-catenin and mTOR pathways (SAF2011-25020 ). Enero 2012-Diciembre 2014.
    • Instituto de Salud Carlos III. CIBER de Salud Mental, 2009-
    • Programa ZENIT,  Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (con BrainCo y FaesFarma SA).Nuevas aproximaciones en el tratamiento de las enfermedades del sistema nervioso. Enero 2010-Diciembre 2012

Ángel Pazos Carro (IP)

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Álvaro Díaz Martínez

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Elena Castro Fernández

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Daniel Coca De Pablo

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Júlia Senserrich Guerrero

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