Karestan Koenen
Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Medicine Public Health
Outside professional activities


Karestan C. Koenen, PhD aims to reduce the population burden of mental disorders through research, training, and advocacy. She is passionate about using science to overcome violence and trauma, which are major preventable causes of health problems globally. Research Dr. Koenen’s research focus is three-fold. First, she studies why some people develop PTSD and related mental and physical health problems and why some people are resilient when exposed to similar traumatic events. Dr. Koenen is a co-principal investigator on the NIMH-funded AURORA study, led by Dr. Samuel McLean with Drs. Ronald Kessler and Kerry Ressler. Dr. Koenen also co-leads the PTSD working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which aims to identify genetic variants that increase risk and resilience following trauma exposure. Second, she investigates how violence, trauma, and PTSD alter long-term physical health and accelerate aging. Much of this work is done in collaboration with the Nurses’ Health Study. Third, she aims to expand access to evidence-based mental health treatment for survivors of violence and trauma. To this end, she co-wrote the book, Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Interpersonal Trauma, Second Edition: STAIR Narrative Therapy with Drs. Marylene Cloitre and Lisa Cohen. Training Dr. Koenen leads the NIMH-funded Training Program in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics (T32) and the Interdisciplinary Concentration in Population Mental Health. She also advises masters and doctoral degree students in the Departments of Epidemiology and Social Behavioral Sciences. In addition, Dr. Koenen leads the Trauma Epidemiology and Population Mental Health Research Group for her students and post-doctoral fellows. The group is primarily a forum for trainees and junior investigators to present and receive feedback on work-in-progress, but also includes presentations on advanced research methodology and career development. Advocacy Dr. Koenen advocates for survivors of violence and trauma. In May 2011, Dr. Koenen testified before the House Foreign Affairs Full Committee 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, which investigates how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in conflict. Dr. Koenen also consulted on the documentary, It Happened Here, which examined the epidemic of sexual assault on university campuses. In addition, Dr. Koenen speaks to lay audiences about the latest scientific findings around violence and trauma. Education Post-doctoral Fellowship, 2002, Psychiatric Epidemiology, Columbia University Ph.D., 1999, Clinical Psychology, Boston University M.A., 1996, Developmental Psychology, Columbia University B.A., 1990, Economics, Wellesley College Affiliations Past-President, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Fellow, American Psychopathological Association Scientific Council Member, Anxiety and Depression Association of America Honors & Awards Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award for Excellence in Service/Research in Traumatic Stress, ISTSS, 2005 Robins-Guze Young Investigator Award, APPA, 2005 Outstanding Post-doctoral Research Mentor Award, HSPH, 2010 Woman of the Week, Women in the World Foundation, November 23, 2011 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Science of Trauma Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 56, 2015 Outstanding Post-doctoral Research Mentor Award, HSPH, 2010 and 2015 Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement, 2015, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Select Global Activities The Stanley Global Neuropsychiatric Genetics Initiative (Stanley Global): This initiative was launched in 2014 and seeks to diversify genetic sample collection outside of the United States and Northern Europe to include Asian, Latin American, and African populations, as well as important population isolates such as that in Finland. Dr. Koenen leads the Neuropsychiatric Genetics of African Populations (NeuroGAP) and Neuropsychiatric Genetics in Mexican Populations (NeuroMex) programs, which aim to conduct collaborative neuropsychiatric genetics research and capacity building in historically underrepresented populations in Africa and Mexico. For more information on NeuroGAP, please contact Program Director Anne Stevenson at astevens@broadinstitute.org; for NeuroMex please contact Ana Maria Olivares (aolivare@broadinstitute.org) and for capacity building specifically please see the Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics in Research. Primary contact: lchibnik@hsph.harvard.edu
Biology of Trauma
Mental & Physical Health
PTSD & Related Mental and Physical Health

Outside professional activities

Outside Professional Activities

In the spirit of transparency and integrity, Salata Institute Faculty Associates disclose publicly their key professional activities outside of Harvard University. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some of the activities may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Karestan Koenen
Outside Activities Information Pending

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