Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Christine Heim

Head of department, University professor, Principal investigator

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Luisenstraße 57
10117 Berlin

Campus / internal address:
Luisenstraße 57

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External location

Pennsylvania State University
109 Biobehavioral Health Building
University Park PA 16802
814-863-7256
Email: cmh417@psu.edu

Expertise

  • Developmental psychobiology, i.e. consequences of early adverse experience
  • Neurobiology of depression & anxiety disorders, i.e. posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psychoneuroendocrinology of functional somatic syndromes
  • Neural correlates of stress and emotion
  • Interactions of stress and dispositional factors across development

Additional information

Research Statement:

My interests combine research on the psychobiology of stress and trauma with a developmental and
clinical perspective. I am particularly interested in elucidating the mechanisms involved in the
developmental programming of health and disease as a function of early experience, in order to derive novel pathophysiology-driven targets for the prevention and intervention of disorders related to early life stress (ELS). Over the past years, I have employed a retrospective multidisciplinary approach, integrating psychological, neuroendocrine, immunological and neural measures in humans, in order to identify the mechanisms that may translate exposure to ELS into increased risk for psychiatric and medical disorders across the lifespan. Our findings were the first to demonstrate that ELS in humans is associated with long-term sensitization of stress response systems that in turn predicts psychopathology. In subsequent studies, we identified manifold neurobiological changes that contribute to stress sensitization and disease risk after ELS. These studies part of the Emory Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders and, therefore, I have extensive experience with running large-scale clinical studies. I further expanded my methodological expertise to neuroimaging during a National Institutes of Health K01 Research Career Development Award. Additional collaborative research focused on gene x environment interactions in the consequences of ELS. Collectively this research shows that ELS, in concert with genetic factors, induces a fundamental change in stress regulatory systems, with consequences for brain development, immune function, and behavior, leading towards clinical manifestations. Understanding the immediate mechanisms that lead to such long-term biological ‘scars’ will enable the development of early targeted interventions that block, reverse or compensate these processes and use developmental plasticity to prevent the detrimental consequences of ELS across the lifespan. At present, I focus on longitudinal studies in children, aimed at mapping processes of biological embedding of ELS at neural, physiological and molecular levels, as well the moderation and prevention or reversal of such embedding. Taken together, the impact of my work is reflected in more than 20,000 citations. I am the recipient of more than 10 honors and awards, including the 2004 Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, the 2007 Curt P. Richter Award of the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology, and the 2015 Patricia Barchas Award in Sociophysiology of the American Psychosomatic Society. I am an elected as a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. In 2015, I was appointed as a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, where I now serve as Vice Secretary of the Biomedical Class. I am the recipient of multiple federal grants and foundation grants and serve on numerous national and international scientific review committees regarding research on the consequences of childhood trauma. I am a member of Penn State’s newly established Child Maltreatment Solutions Network.

 

Research Impact:

  • Impact Factor: 495
  • Citations (Google Scholar): >21,400
  • H-Index (Google Scholar): 57
  • H-Index (Web of Science): 41
  • H-Index (Research Gate): 54
  • RG Score: 42.2 (>97.5th percentile)

 

Selected publications:


Vita Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Christine Heim

since2014Professor, Biobehavioral Health (joint appointment), College of Health & Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
since 2011Full professor (W3), head of Department of Medical Psychology, Center for Health and Human Sciences, Charité, Berlin, Germany
2008-2011Associate Professor (tenured), Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
2006-2011Adjunct faculty, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Emory Univeristy, Atlanta, GA, USA
2001-2007Assistant professor (tenure track), Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
1999-2001Scientific associate (C1), Department of Clinical and Physiological Psychology, Universität Trier, Trier, Germany
1996-1999Postdoctoral fellow (Advisor: Charles B. Nemeroff), Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
1996 PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) in Psychology, Universität Trier, Trier, Germany
1994-1996Doktorandin, Forschungszentrum für Psychobiologie & Psychosomatik, Universität Trier, Trier, Deutschland
1987-1993

Studies in Psychology, Universität Trier, Trier, Germany

 

Activities in the scientific community, honors, awards:

2015Member, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW)
2015Patricia R. Barchas Award in Sociophysiology, American Psychosomatic Association
since 2013Member, Editorial Boards: Psychoneuroendocrinology (2013), Medical Psychology (2015), Personalized Medicine in Psychiatry (2016)
2012 - 2014Member, Training and Education Committee, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
2008Elected member, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
2007Curt P. Richter Award, International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology
2006Research Scientist Career Development Award, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
2006 Junior Faculty Research Grant Award, Anxiety Disorders Association of America
2004 Chaim Danieli Award, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
2003Scholarhip, Society for Biological Psychiatry
2002, 2005NARSAD Young Investigator Award, The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, USA
1998Young Investigator Award, International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology
1997 - 1998Postdoctoral fellowship Award, German Research Foundation (DFG)
1997 Annual Award for Most Distinguished Dissertation, University of Trier               
1995 Travel Award, German Research Foundation (DFG)

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Functions / offices

  • Head of Department, University professor, Institute of Medical Psychology, Charité Berlin
  • Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University
  • Principal Investigator, NeuroCure
  • Faculty member, Berlin School of Mind & Brain
  • Member, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW)
  • Faculty Member, Network on Child Maltreatment Solutions, Social Science
    Research Institute, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania
    State University, University Park, PA, USA


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