The research training group investigates psychosocial, neurobiological, and somatic sequelae of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). It is embedded in the central lines of research at the Central Institute of Mental Health (Mannheim, Germany) and the Medical Faculty Heidelberg (Germany), with two already existing BMBF-funded networks on trauma-related disorders and existing patient cohorts, and based on long-lasting experience with doctoral training programmes. Adverse childhood experiences such as sexual and physical abuse or neglect are frequent in childhood and constitute a massive stressor with long-lasting consequences for mental and physical health. Despite their obvious relatedness, neither the causal relation nor the mechanisms involved are clear. 

On the one hand, traumatic experiences are diverse, differing in type, timing, and intensity with social support and other protective factors contributing to this. On the other hand, ACE-related manifestations range from psychosocial to somatic problems such as heightened stress sensitivity, emotional disturbances, interpersonal problems, depression, substance dependence, chronic pain, or inflammatory and metabolic diseases. Therefore, the central aims of the research training group are (1) Investigation of the role of type, timing and intensity of adverse childhood experiences and protective factors in the emergence of ACE-related disorders; (2) Elucidation of the psychosocial, neurobiological and epigenetic mechanisms underlying ACE-related psychiatric and somatic disorders; (3) Development of novel psychosocial and pharmacological treatment possibilities as well as public health programmes for ACE-related conditions.

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ACE Characteristics

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Research Focus-B

Psychosocial Consequences

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Somatic Consequences

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