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Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD

Dr. Kerry Ressler is the chief scientific officer and the James and Patricia Poitras Chair in psychiatry at McLean Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.


Dr. Ressler received his bachelor of science degree in molecular biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his MD/PhD from Harvard Medical School. At Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital, he founded the Grady Trauma Project which focuses on understanding the psychology, biology, and trauma-related factors, contributing to intergenerational cycles of trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and depression in over 13,000 primarily minoritized participants from urban Atlanta. He is a co-leader of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), a PTSD workgroup (less than 300,000 samples worldwide) to understand the genetic architecture of PTSD. More recently, he is co-founder of the AURORA project to understand the biology of PTSD development in the first year after trauma exposure. He has also led a molecular neurobiology lab, targeting basic mechanisms of threat-related behaviors in rodent models for about 20 years to examine translational approaches to understanding and preventing threat-related disorders, such as PTSD and depression.


Dr. Ressler is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a prior Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, a past president of the Society for Biological Psychiatry, and current president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Related to PTSD, he is the chair of the scientific advisory board for the Army STARRS Project, and he is on scientific advisory boards for the Marine Resiliency Study and the National Center for PTSD. His work focuses on translational research, bridging molecular neurobiology in animal models with human genetic and epigenetic research on emotion, particularly PTSD, fear- and anxiety-related disorders. He has published over 500 manuscripts, ranging from genetic basic molecular mechanisms of fear processing to understanding how emotion is encoded in the brain across animal models and human patients.