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Erika Roman

Erika Roman


I have always had a great interest in animals; grew up with dogs, started horse riding at 8 years of age and have had own horses. During the latter part of high school and a few years after, I worked as, what corresponds to today's veterinary nurse at an animal hospital in Jönköping. There was also an interest in drugs and I moved to Uppsala for pharmacy studies at Uppsala University. Thereafter, I continued as a PhD student at the same university and received my PhD in Pharmaceutical Pharmacology in 2004. As a PhD student I came in contact with professor emeritus Bengt J. Meyerson (1933–2015) at Uppsala University. His vast knowledge and fascination for behavioral studies inspired me to focus on neurobiological behavioral studies. My career continued at Uppsala University, first as a postdoctoral fellow in the study of individual differences in behavioral neurobiology with focus on brain reward networks, and then as a researcher. I became a Docent in 2010 and Senior Lecturer in Behavioral Pharmacology in 2014, both at Uppsala University. Since August 2019, I hold a position as Professor in Domestic Animal Neurophysiology at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB), SLU. Here I have initiated and been welcomed to join new exciting research projects.


I teach the nervous system anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, sensory organ anatomy and physiology, as well as pain physiology at various levels in the different programs at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science. I also supervise master projects.


My research has focused on studies in the field of behavioral neurobiology. In collaboration with professor emeritus Bengt J. Meyerson (1933–2015), new methodology for behavioral profiling was developed. By giving the animals a choice between different environments in a more complex environment, you can study general activity, risk assessment, risk taking, and shelter seeking in one trial; a behavioral profile of the animal is generated. In recent years, the behavioral test has been developed and adapted for additional animal species. We have then been able to show that several neurotransmitters play a role in the individual differences in behavioral profiles that we observe.

A common theme in my research has been studies of extremes in behavior, subgroups characterized by high risk-taking or strong shelter-seeking behavior. In ongoing studies, we try to find the mechanisms that give rise to risky choices in a subpopulation of animals rather than safe or optimal choices as seen in the majority of animals. By studying both sexes, similarities and differences in behavior between males and females can be observed. My group has also focused on animals of different age and how behaviors develop over time. For example, we could recently demonstrate that the risk assessment ability is poorly developed in adolescent animals compared to adult individuals. A large part of my research is also devoted to refinement (one of the 3Rs) of test methodology and environment to improve animal welfare and at the same time generate more reliable research results. Ongoing research projects are presented below.


In collaboration with Svante Winberg, Uppsala University, it is being studied how the rearing of zebrafish can be refined with regard to tank size, fish density and enrichment with the goal of improving fish welfare for Sweden's now second most common laboratory animal. A PhD student works in the project, and we have funding from the Swedish Research Council (MH-3R).

In collaboration with Anna Jansson, AFB, SLU, behavioral studies are carried out on house crickets (Acheta domesticus), which can form a future protein source as a base in animal feed or for human consumption. In order to ensure a sustainable production of house crickets, characterized by good animal protection and good animal welfare, the project aims to improve knowledge about the behavioral repertoire and the influence of various rearing factors. Postdoc Laura Vossen has worked and postdoc Frida Lindberg is currently working on the project, both of which are funded by the Carl Trygger Foundation.

In a project led by Patricia Hedenqvist, KV, SLU, it is being studied how premedication before anesthesia can refine the induction and recovery of rats and mice that are anesthetized in experiments and thereby improve animal welfare and research results. A PhD student works in the project and we have funding from the Swedish Research Council (MH-3R).

In a project led by Erik Petersson, Aquatic Resources, SLU, the effect of various anesthetics on fish is studied. The aim is to provide a scientific basis for advice on the best anesthetics for three fish species (zebrafish, brown trout and rainbow trout), representing different areas of use (laboratory experiments, environmental monitoring and aquaculture). The project has funding from the Swedish Research Council (MH-3R).

In collaboration with Eva Sandberg, AFB, and Carl Ekstrand, BVF, SLU, it is evaluated whether topical local anesthetics are useful for reducing pain and discomfort in connection with needlesticks in animals and whether there are differences in effectiveness between different animal species.

Neurophysiology and behavior
Samer Siwani is a postdoc in a project where we collaborate with Klas Kullander, Uppsala University, for studies of a special type of interneuron in the hippocampus, Oriens Lacunosum-Moleculare (OLM) cells, and how these affect the communication between the hippocampus and the amygdala, as well how these pathways interact in the formation of emotional memories. Samer is financed by U-Share and the Swedish Brain Foundation.

In another project we study individual differences in decision-making processes in the rat Gambling task (rGT). We have identified individuals with safe, strategic and risky strategies in the rGT and characterize their behavior in other tests, underlying neurobiology and response to pharmacological treatment.
Translational research
In a project led by Jan Eriksson, Uppsala University, it is studied how the brain's sensing of blood glucose levels is regulated by endocrine and monoaminergic systems, and how these interact in the development (and reversal) of type 2 diabetes. A PhD student funded by the Uppsala Diabetes Center (UDC) works in the project.
One Health
U Can Move is a multidisciplinary research project that aims to stimulate physical activity in dogs and their owners. In the project, PhD student Klara Smedberg, funded by the Uppsala Diabetes Center (UDC), studies the impact of physical activity on risk and protective factors for type 2 diabetes in owners and metabolic factors in dogs. The project also involves activity recommendations for dogs and studies of the importance of the physical outdoor environment for physical activity.

Link to the project: U Can Move

Link to the Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK): U Can Move


One of the initiators of the research infrastructure UUBF, Uppsala University Behavioral Facility and member of the steering committee. Link to UUBF

Member of the National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes, that serves as steering board for the Swedish 3R center in the work to promote the practice of the 3Rs (replace, reduce and refine) during 2017–2022. Since 2023 member of the National Committee´s Expert Group. 


Supervision at SLU


Laura Vossen 2020-2022

Samer Siwani, started 2022

Frida Lindberg, started 2023

Main supervisor for PhD students

Klara Smedberg, started 2022, ”U Can Move – the effects of physical activity in dogs and their owners”

Deputy supervisor for PhD students

Vanessa Bettembourg, started 2022, “Optimizing rodent anesthesia”

Emma Nilsson, started 2022, “Physiological and metabolic effects of different diets in animals”

Supervision at Uppsala University

Main supervisor for PhD students

Shima Momeni, Pharm Lic 2014, PhD 2015, “Individual differences in behavior, neurochemistry and pharmacology associated with voluntary alcohol intake”

Stina Lundberg, Pharm Lic 2017, PhD 2020, “Adolescent behavior – links to early-life stressand alcohol in male and female rats”

Nikita Tjernström, PhD 2023, ”Strategies in the rat gambling task – Individual differences in decision-making and associations to behavior, neurobiology and human strategies”

Deputy supervisor for PhD students

Lisa Gustafsson, PhD 2007, “Endogenous opioids and voluntary ethanol drinking. Consequences of postnatal environmental influences in rats”

Oskar Karlsson, PhD 2011, “Distribution and long-term effects of the environmental neurotoxin beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Brain changes and behavioral impairments following developmental exposure”

Loudin Daoura, PhD 2013, “Early environment and adolescent ethanol consumption. Effects on endogenous opioid and behaviour in rats”

Linnéa Granholm, Pharm Lic 2015, PhD 2018, “Stress, drugs and neuroscience – Neurobiological effects of social stressors and drug exposure in young and adolescent rats”

Frida Lindberg, PhD 2022, “The biological importance of the amino acid transporter SLC38A10 – Characterization of a knockout mouse”

Joep Titulaer, PhD 2023, “Finding improved drug strategies for schizophrenia – Preclinical studies on lumateperone and sodium nitroprusside”

Oly Sen Sarma, started 2019, “Optimizing zebrafish rearing”

Christakis Kagios, started 2022, “The role of the brain in type 2 diabetes”

External mentor for PhD student

Salvatore Magara, Karolinska Institutet, PhD 2015, ”Modelling depression in animals and the potential antidepressant effect of histaminergic modulation”


Publication list

Link to Google Scholar



Link to ORCID


Professor at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology
Telephone: +4618672843
Postal address:
Institutionen för anatomi, fysiologi och biokemi
Box 7011
Visiting address: VHC Huvudentré, Ulls väg 26, hus 5, plan 4, Uppsala