Theme: Stress

Invited Speakers with the Theme of Stress

Symposium – Genetics and Epigenetics of Stress

Dr. Frances CHAMPAGNE, University of Texas at Austin, USA

Prenatal Programming of Offspring Development

Frances A. Champagne is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Texas, Austin and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University.  She received a M.Sc. in Psychiatry and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from McGill University. Dr. Champagne is a world leader within the evolving field of behavioral epigenetics – the study of how life experiences lead to behavioral and neurobiological variation through epigenetic factors.  Though mechanistic studies in this field are addressed primarily in animal models, Dr. Champagne has also established collaborations to explore epigenetics within humans to determine the contribution of these molecular marks to neurobiological outcomes.

Dr. Hans REUL, Univeristy of Bristol, UK

Stress-Induced Genomic Action of Glucocorticoids in the Brain

My name is Johannes M.H.M. (Hans) Reul, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. I studied Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands and obtained my PhD degree also at this University in 1987. After post-docs in Melbourne, Australia, and Utrecht, I was appointed Research Group Head at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, in 1990. In 2003, I joined the University of Bristol, initially as Reader, and was appointed Professor of Neuroscience in 2006. In 2017, I was additionally appointed to Research Director Neurosciences of the Bristol Medical School within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol. My main research interest is the investigation of the effects of stress on the brain. My focus is the role of glucocorticoid hormones acting via brain mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors in the regulation of the HPA axis, behaviour and cognition. I apply epigenetic techniques and gene transcriptional analyses in combination with next-generation sequencing to identify epigenomic mechanisms underpinning adaptive behaviour and memory formation.

Dr. Richard HUNTER, University of Massachusetts, USA

Steroids, Epigenetics and Transposome

Dr. Hunter’s research focuses on epigenetic and genomic mechanisms in the brain in animal models of stress and human neuropsychiatric disorders. His doctoral was in the training in the laboratory of Michael Kuhar, Ph.D. at Emory University, where he studied the involvement of the neuropeptide CART in systems mediating stress and reinforcement. Dr. Hunter received his post-doctoral training at the Rockefeller University in the laboratories of Bruce McEwen, Ph.D. and Donald Pfaff, Ph.D.  His work there included multiple projects involving stress neurobiology: most significantly, the discovery of a ‘genomic stress response’ involving histone methylation in the rat hippocampus, which controlled transposon expression in that region. More recently, he showed that the glucocorticoid receptor shows signs of acting as a mitochondrial transcription factor in the brain during stress. His work at the University of Massachusetts builds on these two findings and seeks to apply the insights gleaned from them to the human context.

Dr. Gustavo TURECKI, McGill University, Canada

Dysregulation of non-CG methylation by child abuse

Gustavo Turecki MD PhD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. He is also the Director of the McGill Group for Suicide Studies (, and the Head of the Depressive Disorders Program at the Douglas Institute. Gustavo’s work uses functional genomic approaches to understand brain molecular changes that occur in response to early-life trauma and how they may increase lifetime risk of major depression and suicide

Symposium – Stress, Hormones and Plasticity

Dr. Becky CONWAY-CAMPBELL, Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology, UK

The Effects of Altering the Pattern of Glucocorticoids on Cognitive Function

I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow, funded by The Neuroendocrinology Charitable Trust. I work together with Professor Stafford Lightman at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroendocrinology at the University of Bristol. My primary research focus is on mechanisms underlying biological rhythms. In particular, I am interested in circadian and ultradian rhythms of glucocorticoids in humans, both healthy volunteers and patients with adrenal insufficiency, as well as in vivo rodent studies and in vitro cell culture models.

In Bristol, we have a large multidisciplinary team integrating clinical and basic research, with a translational /reverse translational approach. We utilise a diverse set of techniques to assess how altered glucocorticoid rhythms affect physiology, including our automated blood sampling and programmable infusion systems, transcriptomics (RNA-Seq), genome-wide transcription factor binding studies (ChIP-Seq), proteomics and metabolomics. In addition we collaborate with behavioural experts and electrophysiologists to characterise functional outcomes in our rodent models, and fMRI brain imaging in our clinical studies with Dr Georgina Russell.

Dr. Jeffrey TASKER, Tulane University, USA

Desensitization of the Excitatory Adrenergic Drive to the HPA Axis

Jeffrey Tasker received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Colorado in 1981 and his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Bordeaux, France in 1986.  He received postdoctoral training in the Physiology Dept at the Tulane University Health Science Center and in the Mental Retardation Research Center of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA.  He joined the faculty of Tulane University as an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology in 1991, and currently holds the rank of professor.  He has benefitted from continuous research support from the National Institutes of Health for 23 years and has published over 80 research papers, reviews and book chapters.  He has held the Catherine and Hunter Pierson Chair in Neuroscience since 2005, he served as Director of the Tulane University Neuroscience Program from 2006 to 2014, and he is currently Director of the Division of Neurobiology of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department.  He has served on several NIH and NSF grant review panels and journal editorial boards. The research in his laboratory uses electrophysiology, molecular biology, and genetic manipulations to study the circuit, electrical and molecular signaling of neuroendocrine cells and astroglia of the hypothalamus and neurons of the basolateral amygdala, with the goal of gaining insight into central nervous system conditions such as stress, depression, obesity, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Freddy JEANNETEAU, Institute de Genomique Fonctionnelle, France

Non-Canonical GR Phosphorylation Pathway in Glucocorticoid Resistance

I am currently research scientist at CNRS in France. I have a PhD training in Neuroscience and Pharmacology from the University of Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris. There, I discovered the first gene (dopamine receptor Drd3) associated to essential tremor (Jeanneteau et al. PNAS 2006). I did a postdoc with Pr. Moses Chao at New York University where I studied neurotrophic signaling in the context of stress (Jeanneteau et al. PNAS 2008; PNAS 2012; Nat Neurosci 2010). Now, I direct my own lab for 5 years in France at the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle in Montpellier. I received the Jean Valade prize from the French Academy of medicine for our work on stress hormones (Liston et al. Nat Neurosci 2013; Arango-Lievano et al. PNAS 2015).

My lab studies the mechanisms used by stress and social hormones in neuroplasticity and in disease models. We use the double-hit strategy for manipulating disease trajectories in genetic models recapitulating disease traits of Prader-Willy syndrome (Meziane et al. Biol Psy 2015; Muscatelli et al. Curr Top Behav Neurosci 2017), Alzheimer disease (Arango-Lievano et al. Sci Rep 2016; Giannoni et al. Neurobiol of Disease 2016), epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and stress-induced depression (Arango-Lievano et al. PNAS 2015).

We have been invited to present our work at several international societies for neuroscience and endocrinology. My lab is funded by an AVENIR grant (equivalent to K99) and supported by grants from foundations, the national research agency and the ERC. We collaborate with labs in the USA, Canada and several European countries.

Dr. Onno MEIJER, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Glucocorticoids & Gene Transcription in the Brain: Beyond the Receptors

Onno Meijer obtained is PhD at Leiden University in 1996, studying the interaction between adrenal corticosteroid hormones and serotonergic neurotransmission the raphe-hippocampal system with Ron de Kloet. At that time the 5-HT1A receptor was his favourite receptor. After a intensive fling with p-Glycoprotein and the blood brain barrier, his first postdoc (1997-8) was with Mary Dallman and David Pearce at UCSF, where he expanded his expertise on stress and transcriptional biology, including mineralocorticoid receptor (MR)-mediated transcriptional repression and the role of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) dimerization – the Pnmt gene becoming favourite. Back at Leiden University he became assistant professor, focussing on corticosteroid receptor downstream coregulators in the brain (in particular Src-1 splice variants). Since 2011 he is part of the department of Internal Medicine/Endocrinology at Leiden University Medical Center, where he became full professor in 2016.  His current research interests include the MR/GR balance in the brain and beyond, context (e.g. cell type) specific effects of glucocorticoids on brain and metabolic regulation, long term effects of glucocorticoids, and translation of basal research to the clinic. The latter includes the use of selective receptor modulators to separate wanted from unwanted glucocorticoid effects. Onno also likes to teach!

Symposium – Regulation of Stress Axis Excitability

Dr. Jaideep BAINS, University of Calgary, Canada

Physiology of Hypothalamic Local Circuitry in Stress

Dr. Jaideep Bains is a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, Canada. He received his Ph.D. from Queen’s University (Canada) in 1997. His research uses electrophysiology, optogenetics, imaging and behavior to understanding how neural circuits and synapses are modified by stress. Dr. Bains is the leader of the Brain and Mental Health Stress Neuroteam at the University of Calgary. He is a Senior Editor at The Journal of Physiology, served for two terms as a member of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction in Canada and is Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience.

Dr. Mike SHIPSTON, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Regulation of Stress Axis Excitability Symposium

Mike Shipston is Professor of Physiology and Dean of Biomedical Sciences at Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. His research is particularly focused on post-transcriptional (e.g. alternative splicing) and post-translational (e.g. S-acylation) mechanisms that control ion channel and endocrine physiology and how dysregulation may lead to major stress and endocrine related disorders. His laboratory takes an Integrative Physiology approach examining from the level of single ion channel proteins to whole body function.


Dr. Soojin RYU, University Medical Center Mainz, Germany

Using Zebrafish to Study Stress and Resilience

Soojin Ryu received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard and her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. After working as a postdoc at the University of Freiburg, Germany, she moved to Heidelberg, where she took a position as  Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research from 2008 to 2015. In 2016 she became a professor at the University Medical Center of Mainz, Germany. Her laboratory carried out pioneering work in establishing zebrafish as a model organism for stress research. Her two main research interests are development, function and the stress-induced plasticity of the HPA axis and mechanisms underlying resilience to stress-induced dysfunctions.

Dr. Tatsushi ONAKA, Jichi Medical University, Japan

Oxytocin and Vasopressin in the Regulation of Stress, Emotional and Social Behavior

Tatsushi Onaka received his medical degree (Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and received postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof Gareth Leng at Babraham Institute (Cambridge, UK). He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at Jichi Medical University. His work has focused on the neural mechanisms of stress and social behaviour. The research in his laboratory uses behavioural neuroendocrinology, molecular biology and genetic manipulations to clarify neural circuits for stress management and social behaviour.

Symposium – Prenatal Stress and Programming of the Brain/Behaviour

Dr. Osborne ALMEIDA, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany

Local Events with Global Consequences

Osborne Almeida studied at the Universities of London and Wales and obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh. After holding Fulbright Senior and Fogarty Fellowships at the US National Institutes of Health, he moved to the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Martinsried/Munich where his research group focused on the mechanisms through which nuclear receptor ligands (especially glucocorticoids) interfere with the neural substrates that regulate cognition, emotion and motivation as well as on the likely common molecular pathways between depression and Alzheimer’s disease, and stress-induced epigenetic changes in the brain. He is also interested in the mechanisms that initiate hedonic eating. Osborne’s recent research has been funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), European Union, and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.  

Dr. Megan HOLMES, University of Edinburgh, UK

Glucocorticoid Programming of Affective and Cognitive Behavior. Mechanistic Insight from 11b-HSD2 Transgenic Mice

Megan Holmes studied in London, doing a PhD with Prof Mortyn Jones, and then moved on to postdoctoral positions in NIH (Bethesda, Fogarty Fellowship) and University of Edinburgh (Wellcome Trust fellowships). She has been a faculty member since 2005. Her work has focussed on the mechanistic relationship of stress on affective and cognitive behaviour across the lifespan. Recent work has focussed on the consequences of stress and glucocorticoids on the feto-placental unit to programme adult behaviour and determine the molecular, cellular and network changes than underpin these effects. She has received funding from RCUK, Wellcome Trust and EU for these studies.

Dr. Aniko KOROSI, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Programming of Cognitive Functions by Early-life Stress, a Role for Nutrition and Neuroinflammation

Korosi Aniko was a postdoc at UCI in the lab of dr. Baram (2006-2010) where she studied how enriched early life experience rewires the hypothalamus. At the end of 2010 she started her team as Assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam. Her research is funded by several national and international programs (e.g. NWO Food Cognition and Behavior, NWO Meervoud, JPI- Nutri-Cog and ISAO). Her team encompasses several PhD students and postdocs and her research focuses on the programming of cognitive functions by early-life stress and aging and on the role of metabolic signals, nutrients and epigenetic mechanisms in this context (1). Her work encompasses pre-clinical work using an established mouse model of chronic early-life stress (2,3,4,5) and clinical work and she is interested in developing peripheral (e.g. nutritional) intervention to prevent and/or reverse the lasting consequences of early-life stress. 

1 Lucassen et al., Trends in Neuroscience, Perinatal programming of adult hippocampal structure and function; emerging roles of stress, nutrition and epigenetics. 2013

2 Naninck et al., Chronic early life stress alters developmental and adult neurogenesis and impairs cognitive function in mice.Hippocampus, 2015

3 Yam et al., Exposure to chronic early-life stress lastingly alters the adipose tissue, the leptin system and changes the vulnerability to western-style diet later in life in mice. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2017

4 Naninck et al., Early micronutrient supplementation protects against early stress-induced cognitive impairments. The FASEB J., 2017

4 Hoeijmakers et al., Early-life stress lastingly alters the neuroinflammatory response to amyloid pathology in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.Brain behavior and Immunity, 2017

5 Abbink et al., Early-life stress diminishes the increase in neurogenesis after exercise in adult female mice. Hippocampus, 2017

Dr. Xiao-Dong WANG, Zhejian University School of Medicine, China

Distinct Populations of Calbindin Neurons Modulate Susceptibility and Resilience to the Effects of Early-Life Stress

Dr. Xiao-Dong Wang is a tenure-track professor, distinguished research fellow and PhD supervisor of the Department of Neurobiology of the School of Basic Medical Sciences, Zhejiang University. Dr. Wang did his PhD and postdoctoral research at Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany in 2008-2012, and has been working at Zhejiang University sine 2013. By using behavioral, pharmacological, morphological, and molecular approaches, he focuses on the molecular mechanisms of stress-induced cognitive impairments and has published over 30 papers in internationally renowned journals including Nature Neuroscience and Neuropsychopharmacology.

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