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PTSD: From Cells to Communities

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Recorded on Thursday November 2, 2017 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM EST

PTSD: From Cells to Communities

Featuring: Dr. Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD

Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and the James and Patricia Poitras Chair in Psychiatry, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chief of the Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders at McLean Hospital.  He began this role in August, 2015, after serving at Emory University in Atlanta for 18 years. 

Dr. Ressler is also the 2017 President of the US Society for Biological Psychiatry. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology from M.I.T., and his M.D./Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School. In 1992 at Harvard, Dr. Ressler was the first student of Dr. Linda Buck (Nobel Prize, 2004), helping to identify the molecular organization of the olfactory receptor system. 

Dr. Ressler is a previous Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a current member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the IOM).  His work focuses on translational research bridging molecular neurobiology in animal models with human genetic research on emotion, particularly fear and anxiety disorders. 

Dr. Ressler has published over 250 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.

Webinar Description

PTSD is common, debilitating, and poses a significant risk for suicide.  Furthermore, while it is common in veterans, many are not aware of its prevalence in America's impoverished, urban neighborhoods that have high rates of violence.

Several risk factors for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in trauma survivors have been identified. These include severity and duration of the trauma, childhood abuse and neglect and lack of family or social support.  Understanding the role of violence, poverty, and other components of high-risk environments is important for progress in stemming the cycles of risk in communities.

From the perspective of mechanism, fear-related disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder and phobia manifest in ways that are consistent with an uncontrollable state of fear.

Their development involves heredity, previous sensitizing experiences, association of aversive events with previous neutral stimuli, and inability to inhibit or extinguish fear after it is chronic and disabling.

Dr. Ressler will highlight recent progress in fear learning and memory, differential genetic susceptibility to disorders of fear, and how these findings are being applied to the understanding, treatment and possible prevention of fear disorders.

Promising advances are being translated from basic science to the clinic. Cutting edge approaches to understand the genetic and epigenetic regulation at a cell-type specific level within amygdala, medial prefrontal, and hippocampal circuitry as it relates to fear extinction will be discussed.


Learning Objectives

At the end of this webinar, attendees will be able to:

1.       Describe new research across patient populations and animal models into the neurobiology of PTSD.

2.        Discuss brain regions and neural circuits thought to underlie PTSD.

3.       Educate others on potential new treatment methods, as well as further understanding current approaches to treating PTSD.


Learning Level: