Karestan Koenen

Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit
Center for Human Genetic Research

Massachusetts General Hospital
Richard B. Simches Research Center
185 Cambridge St.
Boston, MA 02114
Email: kkoenen@hsph.harvard.edu

Karestan Chase Koenen is professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and a faculty member of the Psychiatric Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit.

Dr. Koenen does research and teaches about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her work on PTSD focuses on three areas. First, she studies why, when exposed so a similar traumatic event, some persons develop PTSD while others are resilient. She is particularly interested in how genes shape risk for PTSD. Much of this work is done through the PTSD working group of the  Psychiatric Genomics Consortium  that she co-leads with  Kerry Ressler and Israel Liberzon. Second, she investigates how trauma and PTSD influence weight gain and alter long-term physical health. Third, she documents global burden of trauma and PTSD through her work with the World Mental Health Surveys.

Koenen work uses research findings to advocate for evidence-based prevention of and response to trauma survivors, particularly victims of sexual violence. In May 2011, Dr. Koenen testified before the House Foreign Affairs Full Committee hearing "Peace Corps at 50” about the epidemic of sexual violence and victim blaming culture of the Peace Corps. She has written for the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the Women’s Media Center’s  Women Under Siege Project, a journalism project founded by Gloria Steinem that investigates how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in conflict.

Koenen received her BA from Wellesley College, her MA in developmental psychology from Columbia University and her PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University.

 

 

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