ET2 How stress gets under the skin - molecular mechanisms of lasting effects of adverse life events


Early adverse exposures, such as maternal stress during pregnancy and child abuse, are thought to result in long-lasting consequences on neural circuit function and stress hormone regulation and ultimately in an increased risk for psychiatric but also medical disorders later in life. The impact of these environmental risk factors is moderated by genetic variation. The biological mechanisms underlying this increased risk and these gene x environment interactions are still unclear. This lecture will focus on putative biological mechanisms that implicate the ability of the stress hormone cortisol, released in response to stress, to trigger a cascade of adaptive genomic and non-genomic processes through activation of it’s receptors and the moderation of these responses by genetic variation. These stress hormone receptors are intracellular and bind to the DNA where they act as transcription factors. In such, this system presents a unique set-up for gene x environment interaction.
Overall, the presentation will outline how stress exposure can have lasting effects on cell- and tissue function and how this relates to risk or resilience to stress-related disorders.





Course location

Dining Room

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Instructor's name

Elisabeth Binder


cf. website


Born 1971 in Vienna, Austria. Study of medicine at the University of Vienna and PhD in Neuroscience at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Since 2004 Assistant Professor of Depts. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine. Since 2007 Research group leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry as of August 2013.