UCL Division of Biosciences


CDB Seminar - Professor Gal Richter-Levin, University of Haifa

23 March 2023, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

photo of Gal Richter-Levin

Title: Towards understanding individual variability in response to stress and trauma

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Michael Wright – Cell and Developmental Biology

Zoom: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/99491498378

Abstract: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) follows an exposure to a traumatic event, but only in about 15-20% of the exposed individuals. These proportions indicate that the trauma is not sufficient to induce PTSD and that it must interact with pre-existing risk factors if to lead to PTSD. Exposure to childhood adversities is considered in humans to be a risk factor and we could demonstrate that, similar to humans, exposure of rodents to adversities in juvenility (the developmental period homologous to human childhood) leads to increased susceptibility to developing PTSD symptoms later on. However, even when combining juvenile and adulthood stress, not all individuals are affected. Diagnosis of psychopathologies in humans is based on diagnosis of individuals. Many animal models however, analyse averaged group effects, compromising their translational power. To address that limitation, we have developed a novel ‘Behavioural Profiling’ approach allowing differentiating between exposed-affected and exposed-unaffected individuals. Identifying the affected individuals enables focusing on brain mechanism associated with developing psychopathology. Furthermore, the behavioural profiling analysis enables examining also those animals that were exposed to the trauma but did not develop symptoms. By this, it enables also research into the neurobiology of stress resilience. Indeed, employing this analysis we could identify epigenetic and gene expression alterations specific to resilient individuals. The findings pave the way to consider novel approaches for treating trauma-related psychopathologies, such as PTSD.

Suggested references:

Ritov G, Boltyansky B, Richter-Levin G. A novel approach to PTSD modeling in rats reveals alternating patterns of limbic activity in different types of stress reaction. Mol Psychiatry. 2016 May;21(5):630-41.

Richter-Levin G, Stork O, Schmidt MV. Animal models of PTSD: a challenge to be met. Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;24(8):1135-1156.

Richter-Levin G, Sandi C. Title: "Labels Matter: Is it stress or is it Trauma?". Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 10;11(1):385.

Host: Sandrine Geranton

About the Speaker

Professor Gal Richter-Levin

Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at University of Haifa

Research in the laboratory focuses on the understanding of the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, particularly Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress-induced depression, using animal models. We examine long-term alterations in brain areas associated with processing of emotions and emotional memories, such as the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex. We also study the effects of stressful experiences in early life on cognitive and emotional abilities in adulthood. We study mechanisms of stress resilience, and how these can be enhanced. We study individual differences in response to stress and trauma, and their implications to understanding the subjective nature of the perceived stress experience. We also study Individual differences in response to treatment, towards developing tools for personalized mental medicine.

More about Professor Gal Richter-Levin