The Biology of Trauma and Resilience Initiative


This initiative seeks to understand the mechanisms by which trauma, occurring over the life course, but especially in childhood, “gets under the skin” of patients and shapes how they think, feel, and behave, often for the remainder of their lives. Although much is known about the effects of trauma, little is known about the biological mechanisms and pathways it impacts. Unfortunately, the field is stalled, with limited treatment options and limited efficacy, leaving many people with residual symptoms and impairments. 

The ultimate goal is to improve the lives of trauma patients. In order to do this, we need to understand how trauma can deeply affect some; what pathways are altered in the brains of vulnerable individuals; and which mechanisms underlying susceptibility or resilience can be targets for therapeutic interventions, including early interventions.  

To achieve this goal, however, we must lay a strong scientific foundation that will allow us to methodically pursue relevant scientific questions and eventually catalyze a holistic approach to understanding the many ways trauma can affect health and wellbeing. This foundation requires two main components: (1) a conceptual biological framework, or roadmap, to guide the approaches and innovations required to uncover the biological mechanisms—and potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets—for trauma and (2) a galvanized community of scientists, whose broad range of expertise and perspectives will not only inform the aforementioned roadmap but also pursue the research directions that emerge from it. Below, we provide detailed descriptions of the activities we will be pursuing to create these components.  

Project Team

Northeastern Team

Broad Institute Team