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    Die Hector Fellow Academy stößt innovative Forschungsprojekte in neuen wissenschaftlichen Fragestellungen an.

Epigenetics of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and its Treatment

Daniela Conrad – Hector Fellow Thomas Elbert

Numerous candidate gene association studies and genome-wide association studies have been performed to identify causal genetic variants underlying the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to previous findings, PTSD appears to be a complex mental health disorder that might be best explained through multi-genetic risk markers located on many gene pathways. Moreover, prior research indicated epigenetic modifications (i.e. biological mechanism influencing gene regulation and expression) to be risk factors for PTSD development and potential predictors of treatment success.

This PhD project, supervised by Hector Fellow Thomas Elbert, aims to systematically investigate genetic pathways influencing PTSD development in a large sample of survivors of the rebel war in Northern Uganda. Furthermore, it will be explored if epigenetic methylation in these pathways predicts treatment success with a trauma-focused approach (Narrative Exposure Therapy, NET) and whether it might change in the course or aftermath of therapeutic interventions (see Figure).

By shedding light on epigenetic modifications of neurobiological pathways underlying PTSD and its successful treatment, we aim to contribute to the development of short-term and cost-effective therapy approaches that are tailored to the patients’ genetic and epigenetic characteristics.

Schematic overview of main research topics of the PhD project



Stress & Epigenetik: Wie Fische zur Behandlung posttraumatischer Belastungsstörungen beitragen – Ein interdisziplinäres Forschungsprojekt von Prof. Dr. Axel Meyer & Prof. Dr. Thomas Elbert

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