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Leadership-old 2017-07-03T19:16:53+00:00

Karestan Koenen PhD

Dr. Koenen is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Koenen leads research and teaches about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The broad goal of her work is three-fold. First, she studies why, when exposed so a similar traumatic event, some persons develop PTSD while others are resilient. She is particularly interested in how genes shape risk for PTSD. Much of this work is done through the PTSD working group of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium (PGC) that she co-leads. Second, she investigates how trauma and PTSD influence weight gain and alter long-term physical health including chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes. Third, she documents global burden of trauma and PTSD through her work with the World Mental Health Surveys.

Kerry Ressler MD, PhD

Dr Ressler is chief scientific officer and James and Patricia Poitras Chair in Psychiatry at Harvard University’s McLean Hospital, after serving at Emory University for 18 years. He is also a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and current president of the Society for Biological Psychiatry. Dr. Ressler was previously an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Ressler’s lab focuses on translational research bridging molecular neurobiology in animal models with human genetic research on emotion, particularly fear and anxiety disorders. He has published over 225 manuscripts ranging from basic molecular mechanisms of fear processing to understanding how emotion is encoded in a region of the brain called the amygdala, in both animal models and human patients.

Israel Liberzon, MD

Dr. Koenen is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Koenen leads research and teaches about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The broad goal of her work is three-fold. First, she studies why, when exposed so a similar traumatic event, some persons develop PTSD while others are resilient. She is particularly interested in how genes shape risk for PTSD. Much of this work is done through the PTSD working group of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium (PGC) that she co-leads. Second, she investigates how trauma and PTSD influence weight gain and alter long-term physical health including chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes. Third, she documents global burden of trauma and PTSD through her work with the World Mental Health Surveys.

Imaging Workgroup Leadership

Rajendra Morey MD, MS

Dr. Morey is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University and Director of the Neuroimaging Core at the Durham VA Medical Center. He is a clinician-scientist motivated by a keen interest in understanding structural and functional brain changes associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as their environmental and genetic modulators. In the area of PTSD, he uses functional MRI to elucidate how PTSD symptoms alter the balance of prefrontal-limbic signaling during tasks of executive function, emotion distraction, symptom provocation, and memory. He has conducted several methodological studies with MRI examining morphometry and volumetry in the medial temporal lobe and subcortical structures to help guide investigators in selecting brain segmentation strategies. His is focused on investigating promising genetic modulators of brain dysfunction in PTSD. He co- leads the PTSD Neuroimaging Working Group in the PGC and ENIGMA where he has formulated a blue print to identify replicable genetic associations and new insights into the biological underpinnings of PTSD at a scope that is unprecedented in the field of traumatic stress. These efforts have triggered a renewed impetus and a sharpened focus on investigating structural and functional brain differences, their genetic determinants, environmental modulators, and investigating the genetic vulnerability to the effects of trauma and the onset of PTSD.

Mark Logue, PhD

Dr. Logue is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine and an Investigator at the National Center for PTSD. Dr Logue’s research involves the using computational tools and sound statistical principals to investigate disease risk. Most often this has been related to the study of how genes influence risk of psychiatric and neurological disorders including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. To unravel this complexity, information must be integrated from a variety of sources, including families with a multiple affected individuals, large case-control study samples, and samples from different ancestral populations. The type of genetic data that can be examined is similarly diverse and includes microsatellite markers, single nucleotide polymorphisms, and base-pair level sequence data. The net effect of these genetic changes can be examined using high- throughput methods to measure gene expression and genetic methylation patterns. Dr. Logue the PI of a career-development award (K-01) from NIMH and co-leads the PTSD Neuroimaging Working Group in the PGC and ENIGMA.

EWAS Workgroup Leadership

Monica Uddin, PhD

Dr. Uddin is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. Dr. Uddin’s research group focuses on investigating the molecular underpinnings of stress-related mental disorders, with a particular emphasis on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She seeks to identify genetic, epigenetic, and other biologic signatures associated with risk for, and resilience to, mental illness using samples drawn from both clinical and community-based settings, with the ultimate goal helping to inform interventions that will reduce the burden of mental illness. Dr Uddin’s work is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on tools from diverse fields such as genetics and genomics, psychology, psychiatry, and epidemiology, among others. Major areas of her current research include: characterizing genomic phenotypes of mental illness; delineating the epigenetic changes induced by traumatic stress; identifying gene- and epigene- environment interactions in psychiatric disorders; elucidating the underlying molecular etiology that links mental and physical disorders; and investigating molecular contributions to mental illness that may vary across development.

Alicia Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University. Dr. Smith also directs the Human Psychiatric Genetics Laboratory, a collaborative resource for the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Smith studies the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development and symptoms of stress-related disorders across the lifespan. She uses a number of complementary approaches including bioinformatics and genome-wide evaluations of sequence variants, DNA methylation and gene expression to explore i) how prenatal exposures influence the risk for developmental and behavioral problems during childhood and ii) how early life stress influences the risk for developing adult psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD or perinatal depression and iii) how medications or biologically active chemicals induce behavioral responses such as depression, fatigue or suicidal ideation. It is designed to assist in the development and implementation of grant-funded genetic collaborations and to support the development and training of students and fellows.

Gene Expression Workgroup Leadership

Allison Ashley-Koch PhD

Dr. Ashley-Koch is a Professor in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute and the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Ashley-Koch is a genetic epidemiologist whose primary goal is the identification of genes that contribute to human genetic disorders, including the identification of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions. She is currently involved in studies to dissect the genetic etiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, chiari type I malformations, essential tremor, and neural tube defects. Additional research foci include genetic modifiers of sickle cell disease, and genetic contributions to birth outcomes, particularly among African American women.

Michael Hauser PhD

Dr. Hauser, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Section of Medical Genetics, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Ophthalmology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. Dr. Hauser’s laboratory studies a variety of Mendelian and complex diseases including multiple types of glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ALS, and limb girdle muscular dystrophy.

Physical Health Workgroup Leadership

Jenifer Sumner PhD

Dr. Sumner is an Epidemiology Merit Fellow and Instructor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. At Columbia, Dr. Sumner has pursued research on stressful experiences and their impact on emotional and physical health. She is interested in identifying who may be most vulnerable to the effects of stress and trauma, and her work incorporates genetic, neuroendocrine, physiological, and environmental predictors. Dr. Sumner completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Charleston Consortium, where she gained experience with treating anxiety and mood disorders. During internship, she specialized in the treatment of traumatic stress disorders. She received extensive training in Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy, two of the leading therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Sumner was the recipient of the Clinical Excellence Award for her internship class. Dr. Sumner has published over 25 papers in peer- reviewed journals, including Molecular Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, and Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Erika Wolf PhD

Dr Wolf is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University, an Investigator at the National Center for PTSD, and a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), conferred by President Obama. Her research focuses on the use of multivariate data analytic techniques, such as confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, latent class analysis, and item response theory, to evaluate trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and related comorbidity. Dr. Wolf is currently studying the genetics of latent psychopathology using both twin and molecular genetic methodologies. In particular, her recent work has focused on the idea that PTSD is associated with accelerated cellular aging, as reflected in DNA methylation and as manifested in physical health and neurocognitive decline.