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ISTSS Webinar - Intergenerational Effects of Trauma Exposure

Intergenerational Effects of Trauma Exposure: Behavioral and Biological Mechanisms of Transmission

Childhood trauma exerts long-term neurobiological consequences for both the individual and their children. This webinar will provide a focused perspective on the physiology behind the intergenerational transmission of trauma, as measured using fMRI and fear-potentiated startle, as well as the behavioral (e.g., maternal warmth) and biological (e.g., epigenetics) mechanisms of transmission.


Primary Speaker:

Tanja Jovanovic, PhD
Wayne State University

Kaysen-headshot.jpgTanja Jovanovic, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and the David and Patricia Barron Chair for PTSD Neurobiology at Wayne State University. Dr. Jovanovic’s research program focuses on the interaction of traumatic experiences, neurophysiology, neuroendocrinology, and genetics in stress-related disorders in adults and children in high-risk populations. She directs the Detroit Trauma Project (, which investigates the impact that urban trauma exposure has on the brain. Her research employs psychophysiological (e.g. fear-potentiated startle, skin conductance response, heart-rate variability) and brain imaging methods (e.g. MRI, fMRI) to investigate biomarkers of risk for trauma-related psychopathology, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her laboratory developed novel human fear conditioning, fear inhibition, and extinction paradigms for PTSD patients. Dr. Jovanovic is the lead investigator on several federally funded grants from the National Institutes of Health and has an Independent Investigator Award from the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and served on national and international grant review panels.


Anthony N. Reffi, PhD
Henry Ford Health

mcclendon-headshot.jpgAnthony N. Reffi, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Health in Detroit, Michigan. He completed trauma-focused graduate training in clinical psychology and now studies the role of sleep disturbances in trauma recovery. Dr. Jovanovic is one of his mentors.


Ilana S. Berman, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ilana S. Berman, PhD is a clinical psychologist with expertise in trauma-informed care and trauma-focused practices helping individuals and families recover from intergenerational trauma. She has been affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2020 as a postdoc and adjunct assistant professor, as is also in private practice.