Illuminating Resilience: How Stress and Trauma Can Transform Us

Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 Place: 1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
Registration: 5:30 p.m.   Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
Program: 6:00 p.m.   The Rockefeller University

Dr. Yehuda The human response to traumatic events and stressful experiences varies widely: some people rebound with newfound strength, while others may see their lives diminished by harmful long-term effects. Research psychologist and neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine studies the neurological, physiological, and genetic factors that can lead to these different outcomes. Her studies of the connections between stress and behavior are contributing to a better understanding of the human capacity to adapt to adversity complex set of characteristics that psychologists call "resilience." This understanding may, in turn, assist in the design of interventions and treatments for stress-related disorders tailored to individual needs.

Dr. Yehuda's research suggests that the effects of trauma can be passed from parents to their children through epigenetic changes--heritable modifications in gene expression that do not alter the genes themselves. Children of Holocaust survivors, for example, inherit epigenetic features that appear to be shaped by the experiences and responses of their parents. In another instance, some children of mothers who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the September 11th attacks typically had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and displayed a stronger distress response to unknown stimuli. These findings by Dr. Yehuda and her colleagues imply that further studies of epigenetic changes associated with traumatic events may help to explain why some individuals are more susceptible to stress than others.

A prominent researcher on PTSD, Dr. Yehuda directs the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She also heads the PTSD Clinical Research Program at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, where she works with combat veterans undergoing treatment for PTSD. Her achievements in the field have been recognized by many awards, including a distinguished Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry Guest Professorship.

Following her talk, Dr. Yehuda will be joined in conversation by Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., Rockefeller's Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and faculty advisor to Parents & Science. Dr. McEwen, a widely recognized authority on the neurobiology of stress, has made many important discoveries about neuroendocrine effects in the brain and the long-term outcomes of childhood stress.

To RSVP or for more information, please click here or contact Christy Barrow at (212) 327-7285 or

Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University

Parents & Science
Faculty Advisor

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor
Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch
Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology

Parents & Science Leadership


Daniella Lipper Coules
Talbott Simonds

Steering Committee

Rebecca Anikstein
John Bernstein
Charles W. Caulkins
Karen de Saint Phalle
Blair Pillsbury Enders
Wendy Ettinger
Kathy Heinzelman
Tania Neild, Ph.D.
Ilona Nemeth
Marean Pompidou
Courtney Smith Rae
Loli Echavarria Roosevelt
Kimberly Kravis Schulhof
Roxy Zajac

Scientific Advisory Council

Evelyn Attia, M.D.
BJ Casey, Ph.D.
Myron Hofer, M.D.
Ilene Sackler Lefcourt
Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D.
Richard Nisbett, Ph.D.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

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