2nd International Symposium on Resilience Research – Confirmed Speakers

Dewleen Baker


University of California, San Diego

VA San Diego Healthcare System


Dewleen Baker is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Director of Neuroscience Research for the Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health in San Diego. She also serves as a teaching attending at the San Diego VA Health System (VASDHS) Anxiety Disorders Clinic.

Her longstanding academic focus is on various aspects of stress and mental health, particularly Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). Within this focus, her clinical and research interests and activities are broad, and include current and planned projects on PTSD and mTBI biomarker discovery, as well as evaluation of new PTSD and mTBI treatments.  Her biomarker research includes the Marine Resiliency Study (MRS), a longitudinal, prospective study of risk and resilience factors for post-deployment mental and physical outcomes in active duty Marines. MRS is an active member of a number of the U.S. national and international consortia focused on biomarker discovery.

Title of presentation: Seeking risk and resilience factors for PTSD: The Marine Resiliency Study


Alon Chen


Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich

Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot


Professor Alon Chen is Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (Department of Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics) and Head of the Max Planck – Weizmann Laboratory for Experimental Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurogenetics in Rehovot, Israel since 2013. He received his Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Department of Neurobiology in 2001. Between 2001 and 2005, he served as a Research Associate in the Laboratories for Peptide Biology, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California. In 2005, he joined the Weizmann Institute in the Department of Neurobiology.

Alon Chen's research focuses on the neurobiology of stress, particularly the mechanisms by which the brain regulates the response to stressful challenges and how this response is linked to psychiatric disorders. His lab has made discoveries linking the action of specific stress-related genes with anxiety, depression, weight regulation and diabetes. Alon Chen and his research team use both mouse genetic models and human patients to ultimately create the scientific groundwork for therapeutic interventions to treat stress-related emotional disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, anorexia nervosa, and depression.

Title of presentation: Genetic and optogenetic dissection of the central stress response: Region-specific roles of the CRF/Urocortin system in stress regulation


Bruno Giros

GirosMcGill University, Montréal


Bruno Giros, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Research Chair in Neurobiology of Mental Disorders at the McGill University, Montréal. After having created the Neurobiology and Psychiatry Laboratory at France's Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Bruno Giros came to the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in 2007 as second Graham Boeckh Chair in Schizophrenia.

He is interested in characterizing the neurobiology of schizophrenia and unipolar depression, thanks to developing improved genetic animal models of these disorders. In this context, two neurotransmitter systems, the dopamine and glutamate pathways, have been the focus of Bruno Giros' research. He has been a pioneer in the molecular characterization, cloning and study of receptors and transporters for these neurotransmitters and he has developed the first genetic mouse models that link these molecules to integrated brain functions, and mimic certain types of psychosis. Recently, he has also studied these systems in the context of stress-related dysfunctions and resilience.

Title of presentation: Deciphering the role of noradrenergic transmission in the brain: Focus on resilience to chronic stress


Ming-Hu Han

HanIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York


Ming-Hu Han is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He received his PhD at the Shanghai Institute of Physiology. At the Mount Sinai, he leads the Han Laboratory of Cellular Neurophysiology which studies neurophysiological mechanisms of depression and alcohol addiction in rodent models.

One of the most fundamental functions of the brain is the capacity to develop adaptive changes in response to environmental stimuli under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. These neural adaptations can occur at a variety of levels such as at the levels of ion channels, synaptic transmission, and integrative function of neuron and neural network, and they are believed to be responsible for governing behavioural/psychological functioning. Ming-Hu Han’s laboratory is specifically interested in identifying the intrinsic plasticity of ion channels and neuronal excitability, and adaptive changes in neural network, that are induced by psychological stress and alcohol in the dopamine circuit of the ventral tegmental area, an emotion- and reward-related system. Research in Ming-Hu Han’s laboratory focuses on the underlying mechanisms of these neuroadaptations and how they mediate behavioural susceptibility and resilience to stress and alcohol in laboratory models of depression and alcohol dependence.

Title of presentation: Norepinephrine-related mechanisms of resilience to social stress


David Lyons

LyonsStanford University


David Lyons is Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (General Psychiatry and Psychology-Adult) and member of the Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University. His research and scholary interests focus on behavioural neuroscience.

The negative consequences of stress are well-recognized in contemporary perspectives on human mental health. Exposure to early life stressors, for example, increases the risk for the development of mood, anger, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Interestingly, however, prior stress exposure has also been linked to the subsequent development of resilience. Using animal models on mice and primates, David Lyons is especially interested in adaptive aspects of stress in neurobehavioral development and in testing the idea that prior stress exposure facilitates the development of subsequent resilience. Subjects of his research include for example the neural substrates of stress inoculation, stress- and coping-induced changes in the brain as well as the effects of early life stress on different processes (e.g., novelty seeking behaviour, response inhibition) in the animal model. In the light of advancing preventive strategies to most effectively foster resilience, David Lyons' work contributes to a better understanding of stress inoculation, with all the concerns and opportunities involved.

Title of presentation: Stress inoculation, coping, and resilience


Steven F. Maier

MaierUniversity of Colorado Boulder


Steven Maier is a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor and the Director of the Center for Neuroscience. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and has been at the University of Colorado since 1973.

Steven Maier's research falls into two broad areas. One centers on interactions between the brain and the immune system, with study of both how the brain regulates immune processes and how products of immune cells signal the brain. Current emphasis is on understanding the mechanisms of immune-to-brain signaling at pathway, cellular and molecular levels, and the implications of these signaling pathways for understanding stress, mood disturbances, cognitive impairment and exaggerated pain states. The other main area centers on an exploration of the variables that modulate the impact of stressors on brain chemistry and the neurochemical mechanisms by which stressors alter behavior, mood, and the organism's reactions to drugs of abuse. The focus is on the degree of behavioral control that organisms can exert over stressors and the role of medial prefrontal circuits that create resistance and resilience to the impact of stressors.

Title of presentation: Embedded prefrontal circuits that mediate the resistance/resilience inducing impact of behavioral control


Caroline Nievergelt

NievergeltUniversity of California, San Diego


Caroline Nievergelt received her B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Neurobiology, and Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of Zuerich in Switzerland. She joined UCSD in 1996 as a postdoctoral fellow to train in population and molecular genetics in the Department of Biology, followed by training in statistical genetics in the Department of Psychiatry. In 2007 she was recruited by the Scripps Research Institute as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine where she worked as a statistical geneticist on phenotypes related to cardiovascular disease, circadian rhythms, mental health, and longevity. Caroline Nievergelt joined the UCSD faculty in 2008 and is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry. She also serves as Associate Director of the Health and Neuroscience Unit of the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH) at the San Diego Veterans Healthcare System.

Caroline Nievergelt's research currently focuses on biomarkers for psychiatric disorders such as Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder and she is leading the statistical analysis group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) for PTSD. She is the principal investigator 9PI) of an NIMH funded study to develop genomic predictors of combat stress vulnerability and resilience in the Marine Resiliency study, and a PI on the two recently awarded NIMH studies for the PGC PTSD GWAS and EWAS consortia that aim to uncover the genomic architecture of PTSD through large-scale, collaborative genome-wide association studies and to investigate the impact of traumatic stress on the methylome.

Title of presentation: Large-scale, collaborative efforts to investigate traumatic stress vulnerability and resilience through genome-wide genetic and epigenetic association analyses by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) PTSD GWAS and EWAS consortia


Gal Richter-Levin

LevinUniversity of Haifa


Gal Richter-Levin is professor at the Department of Neurobiology and the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa. In his research, Gal Richter-Levin focuses on the understanding of the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, particularly Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress-induced depression. He earned his PhD (1992) at the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel, under the supervision of Professor Menahem Segal. In 1995, he joined the University of Haifa and since 2006 he is a full professor at the Department of Neurobiology and the Department of Psychology.

Currently Gal Richter-Levin is the head of the Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience (ISAN) at the University of Haifa which promotes basic and clinical research towards the understanding of the emotional brain and particularly focuses on the causes, phenomenology, mechanisms, and treatment of affective and related disorders. He also leads the Brain and Behavior Laboratory at the University of Haifa. Research in his laboratory focuses on the understanding of the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, particularly PTSD and stress-induced depression, and the effects of stressful experiences in early life on cognitive and emotional abilities in adulthood. Gal Richter-Levin has made major contributions to developing novel translational animal models of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as towards the understanding of the role of emotional and amygdala activation in traumatic memory and depression.

Title of presentation: Behavioral profiling – a novel aproach to studying stress vulnerability and resilience in an animal model of PTSD


Karin Roelofs

RoelofsDonders Institute & Behavioural Science Institute

Nijmegen University, The Netherlands


Karin Roelofs is Professor of Experimental Psychopathology and chair of the Affective Neuroscience group at the Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. Her group studies emotion control from an action control perspective.

By combining various neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, TMS, EEG) with behavioural assessments and hormone interventions in healthy and clinical samples, she and her group have shown that the ability to control automatic emotional actions is central in explaining human stress responses and may constitute an important factor in explaining anxious and aggressive symptomatology. Particularly relevant for the current symposium is her longitudinal study among police officers, in which she is testing prospectively the predictive value of these factors for the development of stress-related symptoms. Karin Roelofs is elected member of the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) and her research is funded by several European (ERC-starting, Fp7) and Dutch (NWO: VENI, VIDI, ASPASIA, and VICI) grants.

Title of presentation: Do primary defensive reactions play a role in stress-resilience?


Raphael Rose

RoseUniversity of California, Los Angeles


Raphael Rose is the Associate Director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center (ADRC), and is also an Associate Research Psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to coming to UCLA, Raphael Rose completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School in Anxiety Disorders and Behavioral Medicine and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Hofstra University.

His research interests include incorporating technology and multimedia presentation to train people to apply evidenced-based approaches (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)) to manage anxiety and stress and achieve peak performance. He is principal investigator on a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-funded study to investigate a self-guided, multimedia stress management and resilience-training program (SMART-OP) with flight controllers at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He was principal investigator on a recently completed project funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) through a cooperative agreement with NASA to develop and evaluate SMART-OP with a sample of stressed but otherwise healthy individuals at UCLA. Raphael Rose was Project Director for the CALM (Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management) study and helped develop a computer-based anxiety CBT intervention.

Title of presentation: Autonomous multimedia resilience training for NASA: Implications for Earth


Roman Stilling

StillingUniversity College Cork


Roman Stilling is postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Neurogastroenterology at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre of the University College Cork (UCC). Before moving to UCC, he received his Ph.D. (Epigenetics of Neurodegenerative Diseases) from the European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen (ENI-G), Germany. His research interests include biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, genetics and heredity, microbiology as well as neurosciences and neurology.

Title of presentation: The microbiome: A key regulator of stress and neurodevelopment