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Date: 2017-03-27
Title: Dr. Koenen and her Impact at the Global Division

Since moving back to Harvard in 2015, Dr. Karestan C. Koenen, a Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has taken on a leadership role in the Global Division, having been named Co-Director of T32 Fellowship for the Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry. Dr. Koenen is extraordinarily generous with her time; she has mentored several of the fellows in the T32 program, has been very helpful reviewing K award submissions, and has provided fellows a network for collaborations. Mentoring is a prime focus of Dr. Koenen’s research career, and she has received several mentorship awards both at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Aside from her work with the Global Division, Dr. Koenen is also an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. At the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research of the Broad Institute, Dr. Koenen is directing a new study investigating the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Karestan’s primary research focus is on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through her work, Dr. Koenen seeks to understand how genes shape risk for PTSD. She also investigates how trauma and PTSD influence weight gain and alter long-term physical health. Her work provides further evidence that PTSD is not solely a mental health problem, demonstrating that patients need access to integrated mental and physical health care. Dr. Koenen currently serves as the Chair of the PTSD Working Group at the World Mental Health Surveys and the co-leader of the PTSD working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Dr. Koenen also advocates for victims of sexual violence and has testified before Congress as well as written for the Boston Globe and other publications on these issues.