2022 Presenters

Deanna Barch, PhD

Chair and Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Professor of Radiology
Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry
Washington University in St Louis

“Early Emergence of Depression: Understanding Emotion Relevant Risk Factors and Treatment”

This talk with overview research on the psychological and neurobiological risk factors related to emotion processing and regulation that are associated with very early onset depression, with onset as early as preschool.  These factors include reduced responses to rewarding outcomes associated with impaired activation of striatal and insular regions, increased responses to negatively valenced outcomes, also associated with disrupted amygdala, striatal and insular activation, impaired emotion regulation associated with decreased prefrontal activity, and disrupted connectivity between emotion reactivity and emotion regulation regions.  I will also present results of a novel emotion regulation focused treatment for early onset depression and evidence for modulation of hypothesized neural targets as a function of treatment. Together, these data support the validity of early onset depression, and provide evidence for the emotion relevant psychological and neural factors that can be targeted by treatments and which may serve to identify children at risk for the development of early onset depression.

Deanna Barch is a clinical scientist whose research focuses on understanding normative patterns cognitive function and brain connectivity and the mechanisms that give rise to the challenges in behavior and cognition found in illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, utilizing psychological, neuroimaging and computational approaches. She is Chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Washington University.  She is also the Couch Professor of Psychiatry and a Professor of Radiology. She is Deputy Editor at Biological Psychiatry and Editor-in-Chief of Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science. She is also the President of the Psychology Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Barch is on the scientific boards of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the One Mind Foundation, and the Stanley Foundation. Dr. Barch was on the Executive Committee of  the Association for Psychological Science and the Scientific Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. She is a Fellow of both the Association for Psychological Science and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a member of the Society for Experimental Psychology, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Reading List: 

Meike Bartels, PhD

University Research Chair & Professor in Genetics and Wellbeing
Program Director, Research Master Genes in Behavior and Health
President, International Positive Psychology Association
Department of Biological Psychology
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Differences in Wellbeing: What Do We Know About Genes, the Brain, and the Environment”


Happiness and wellbeing have emerged as important study subjects within and across many fields of research. A major driving force behind this is the association with physical and mental health and its pivotal role in socioeconomic issues and economic development. With the increased interest in the importance of wellbeing it is critically important to understand and reveal sources of individual differences.

Prof Meike Bartels will present her work on happiness and wellbeing that describing the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. She will present the current state of art within the field of behavioral and molecular genetic research into well-being, including twin-family studies and molecular genetic findings and the search for the exposome. She will furthermore explain the importance of her findings for individuals and the society at large.

Meike Bartels, Ph.D., (1973) is University Research Chair Professor in Genetics and Well-being at the Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She published over 250 papers in peer-reviewed journal including the first molecular genetic evidence for well-being in PNAS and the first genomic variant for well-being in Nature Genetics. She is the president of the International Positive Psychology Association and the immediate past president of the Behavior Genetics Association. She combines research with teaching and is the Director of the Research Master Genes in Behaviour and Health, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. She was awarded a prestigious European Research Council Consolidator grant to build, expand and consolidate her line of research on Genetics and Wellbeing.

Reading List: 

Sidney Hankerson, MD, MBA

Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Director, Mental Health Equity Research
Institute for Health Equity Research (IHER)
Department of Population Health Science and Policy
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

“Partnering with Black Churches to Promote Mental Health Equity”

African Americans with depression are more impaired, have a longer illness course, and have more severe symptoms compared to White Americans.  The purpose of this talk is to briefly review socio-ecological factors that contribute to mental health inequities and describe a novel, church-based depression intervention with a focus on engaging Black men in depression care.

Dr. Hankerson is Vice Chair for Community Engagement in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Mental Health Equity Research in the Institute for Health Equity Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research focuses on reducing racial/ethnic disparities in mental health. He is a nationally recognized expert at faith-based mental health services research. 

The National Academy of Medicine recognized Dr. Hankerson as a “Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine,” an honor bestowed upon only 10 healthcare professionals annually. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently appointed Dr. Hankerson as Chair of the Community Services Board of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Hankerson has presented his study results at the White House, United Nations, NIMH, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Gracie Mansion (NYC Mayor’s Office), and numerous national academic conferences. He was an inaugural member of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Council of Faith and Community Partnerships and served on the APA Council of Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities. 

Reading List: 

Bo Li, PhD

Professor of Neuroscience
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

“Dissecting the Neural Circuitry Underlying Motivated Behaviors”

The basal ganglia and amygdala circuits have important roles in learning and expression of behavioral responses driven by either appetitive or aversive stimuli. How exactly distinct circuits contribute to the generation of such divergent behavioral responses remains unclear. Our recent studies in mice indicate that reward and punishment based learning induces distinct plastic changes in distributed circuits in the basal ganglia and the amygdala, and reveal how these learning-induced changes can be used to guide flexible behaviors. Here I will report our recent findings regarding the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying some of the behavioral roles of these distinct circuits.

Dr. Bo Li has been trained in molecular neuroscience and synaptic physiology, with extensive experiences in systems neuroscience. The focus of research in his laboratory has been to understand the link between neural circuits and motivated behaviors. His lab is particularly interested in studying the synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying aspects of motivated behaviors, such as attention, motivation, and learning and memory; as well as synaptic and circuit dysfunctions that may underlie the pathophysiology of mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression and autism. Dr. Li’s lab integrates in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, molecular, genetic, optogenetic and chemogenetic methodologies to probe and manipulate the function of specific neural circuits in the rodent brain, and to determine their roles in adaptive or maladaptive responses in various behavioral paradigms. The lab is currently undertaking three major lines of research to investigate (1) the roles of basal ganglia circuits in reward-seeking and punishment-avoidance behaviors, and behaviors related to depression and autism; (2) the roles of amygdala circuits in motivated behaviors, and behaviors related to anxiety disorders; and (3) the interactions between the amygdala and the basal ganglia circuits in motivated behaviors.

Reading List: 

Melissa Rosenkranz, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Neuroscience
Center for Healthy Minds
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Toward an Integrated Understanding of Mind-Body Health: From Mechanisms to Interventions”

This talk will cover the bidirectional interactions between the brain and the immune system, using asthma as a clinical model to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the over-representation of psychopathology and cognitive decline in populations with chronic inflammatory disease. I will present data from a series of brain imaging studies that show that inflammation in the body can modulate neural responses to emotion and that neural responses to emotion can modulate inflammation in the body, with clinically meaningful consequences. I’ll also share work demonstrating that mental training can have descending impact on peripheral inflammation and disease-related outcomes. Finally, I’ll advance the hypothesis that the relationship between emotion and inflammation may portend a more fundamental neurodegenerative process, giving rise a range of poor outcomes, including dementia.

Melissa Rosenkranz, Ph.D., is Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Neuroscience at the Center for Healthy Minds and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Rosenkranz is interested in the neural-immune and biochemical mechanisms by which individual differences in response to emotion alter resilience to and the progression of disease. She is also interested in the impact of meditation practice on emotion response and, subsequently, on the neural-immune and biochemical mechanisms underlying resilience or vulnerability to disease. Her program of research is focused on investigating the biology of the bi-directional mind-brain-immune pathways through which emotion and inflammation are mutually influential using a wide range of tools for this purpose, including functional and structural neuroimaging (MRI and PET).

Reading List: 

Symposium Hosts

Richard J. Davidson, PhD

Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Director, Center for Healthy Minds
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Richard J. Davidson received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984.  He has published more than 400 articles, numerous chapters and reviews and edited 14 books. He is the author (with Sharon Begley) of “The Emotional Life of Your Brain” published by Penguin in 2012. He is co-author with Daniel Goleman of “Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body”, published by Penguin Books in 2017.

He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research including a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, a MERIT Award from NIMH, an Established Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD), a Distinguished Investigator Award from NARSAD, the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society, and the Hilldale Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was the year 2000 recipient of the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association –the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. He was the Founding Co-Editor of the new American Psychological Association journal EMOTION and is Past-President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004 elected to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006.  In 2006 awarded the first Mani Bhaumik Award by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and conscious mind in healing. Madison Magazine named him Person of the Year in 2007. In 2008, he founded the Center for Healthy Minds, a research center dedicated to the study of positive qualities, such as kindness and compassion. In 2011 given the Paul D. MacLean Award for Outstanding Neuroscience Research in Psychosomatic Medicine. Serves on the Scientific Advisory Board at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig from 2011-2020 and was Chair of the Psychology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 2011-2013. In 2013 received the NYU College of Arts and Science Alumni Achievement Award. He is a current member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Mental Health. From 1992-2017, he was a member of the Mind and Life Institute’s Board of Directors.  In 2017 elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the premier authority dedicated to the health and medical sciences. In 2018, appointed to the Governing Board of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

His research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices.  His studies have included persons of all ages from birth though old age and have also included individuals with disorders of emotion such as mood and anxiety disorders and autism, as well as expert meditation practitioners with tens of thousands of hours of experience.  His research uses a wide range of methods including different varieties of MRI, positron emission tomography, electroencephalography and modern genetic and epigenetic methods.

Ned H. Kalin, MD

Hedberg Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry
Director, HealthEmotions Research Institute
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Ned H. Kalin, MD, is Hedberg Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the premier scientific journal of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Kalin is the Director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute and the Lane Neuroimaging Laboratory, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, and an affiliate scientist at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Center and the Harlow Primate Laboratory. He serves as the principal investigator for several ongoing NIH funded research projects and has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles related to the adaptive and maladaptive expression of emotion and anxiety. His research focuses on uncovering basic mechanisms that relate stress to the development of psychopathology and to understanding the mechanisms that cause some children to be vulnerable for the development of anxiety and depression. In addition to his research activities, he treats patients who suffer from anxiety and depression who are refractory to standard treatment.

Dr. Kalin earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, did his residency in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, and a fellowship in Neuropsychopharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Kalin is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is a Fellow Emeritus of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a Fellow of the American College of Psychiatry. He has been recognized for numerous awards including the 1985 A.E. Bennett Award for basic science research in biological psychiatry, 2005 Edward A. Strecker Award, 2007 American College of Psychiatrists Award for research in mood disorders, 2007 Gerald Klerman Senior Investigator Award, 2015 Anna-Monika Prize of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital 2020 C. Charles Burlingame Award for compelling contributions to the field of psychiatry throughout his career , and most recently the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology Bruce McEwen Lifetime Achievement Award.. In 2013 he was inducted as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2015 he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine. In 2017, Dr. Kalin was inducted as a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has served as President of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology and President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, as a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council and as Co-Editor for the international journal, Psychoneuroendocrinology. In 2019, Dr. Kalin was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry and continues to serve as the editor today.