Public Release: 

Latest advances on post-traumatic stress disorder highlighted at conference held on September 11

Three day conference at Mount Sinai Medical Center begins on anniversary of 9/11 attacks

New York Academy of Sciences

From survivors of the London bombings to Iraq war veterans to those who witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, post-traumatic stress disorder can afflict anyone of any age, race or gender who has survived traumatic events. Depending upon the individual, the effects of PTSD can occur within weeks or even many years following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist acts, or personal assaults like rape. People who suffer from PTSD often re-live the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life.

While the disorder is not new, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the consequent Iraq war gave new urgency to U.S. researchers and the last four years have witnessed an explosion of information advancing our understanding of PTSD. To present the latest research about this disorder, the New York Academy of Sciences and Mount Sinai School of Medicine are co-sponsoring a three-day conference, "Psychobiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Decade of Progress" at the Mount Sinai Medical Center from September 11 to the 13th. The organizer is Dr. Rachel Yehuda of the Bronx VA Medical Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

"The crisis of September 11 exposed gaps that existed in our knowledge of the brain and its response to stress," says Dr. Yehuda. "It became absolutely critical to turn our attention to the question of what makes some people more vulnerable to PTSD, and what makes others resilient. Without this knowledge, our approach to intervention will of necessity be incomplete."

Expanding upon research first presented at a 1996 New York Academy of Sciences conference, the 2005 meeting will present new research into the cognitive, biological and genetic factors that affect how people with PTSD respond to events. More than 30 researchers from the U.S. and abroad are expected to attend. The conference will provide a forum for an intensive discussion of the latest developments in the field of the psychobiology of PTSD and explore the ramifications of advances in biological studies and their implication for improved treatment paradigms.

Among the topics to be covered at the conference:

An overview of PTSD research since the seminal 1996 conference, including results gleaned from prospective, longitudinal biological studies

Prospective predictors of PTSD, such as prior trauma history and immediate biologic responses Possibilities for prevention, such as the administration of hydrocortisone following critical illness and major surgery

New insights into the effects of PTSD on cognitive and brain functioning, including research on the neural correlates of traumatic memory found via PET neuroimaging

Glucocorticoid responsiveness in PTSD, the role of endocrine testing, and possible treatments with low-dose cortisol

The genetics and molecular biology of PTSD

The impact of early environment through epigenetic programming by maternal behavior, and glucocorticoid programming of the fetus on the later development of PTSD

Unpublished translational studies looking at the relationship between biological and psychological factors, and whether this link can be used to predict treatment success.

Speakers will include:

Bruce McEwen, Rockefeller University; Jonathan Seckl, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh; Richard J. McNally, Harvard University; Farris Tuma, National Institute of Mental Health; Douglas L. Delahanty, Kent State University; Richard A. Bryant, University of New South Wales; Gustave Schelling, Ludwig-Maximillians University, Munich; Dominique J.-F de Quervain, University of Zurich.

The conference will be of most interest to clinicians--MDs, PhDs, RNs, and CSWs who are involved in the treatment of PTSD, and in basic and clinical research into the basis and treatment of PTSD. However, the presentations will also be compelling to students and laypersons interested in the subject.


The proceedings of this conference will be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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