New Frontiers in the Biology of Stress Maltreatment and Trauma


Novel research in the science of stress biology has opened exciting new avenues for understanding how stress ‘gets under the skin’ providing real opportunities for translation. The fields of endocrinology/immunology, neuroscience and genomics are, independently and together, advancing knowledge that will change the way we think about how early-life stressors such as how child maltreatment and other forms of traumatic experiences become biologically embedded and can impact subsequent health, development and well-being.

This collective interdisciplinary science is grappling with the notion that there might be biologic explanations that characterize why some effected individuals are more susceptible than others to the deleterious impact of stress. More importantly, the fact that environmental buffers can explain some of these individual differences, sheds light on the real possibility that early adversity can be interrupted, intervened upon and even reversed. Understanding how nurture intersects with nature will spark critical innovation in how to curtail the acute impact of stress, maltreatment and trauma and ways to prevent further deterioration.

The purpose of this conference is to showcase recent biological advancements related to child maltreatment and other forms of trauma and chronic stress. Three distinct sessions will cover processes of biological embedding emphasizing the role of the endocrine system/immunology, brain development and genomics. A fourth session will focus on resilience from a multi-level, multidisciplinary perspective. The conference will culminate in a panel discussion of the data and ideas presented in these four sessions where discourse among panel and audience members will be encouraged.

Translation is a fundamental, yet often illusive, principle of science. Each session will therefore include an integrative "translation" and "future-directions" component with particular focus on (1) how this research can be understood in the context of serving and treating stress-exposed individuals, and (2) applicable strategies for prevention, mitigating injurious outcomes, and reversibility. With eclectic audience representation, this conference is a unique opportunity to encourage a dialogue between expert researchers, trainees and front-line practitioners—an essential process in illuminating the “next steps” in scientific inquiry and the evolution of scientific knowledge into real-world application and practice.


Day 1 (Wednesday, Sept. 30)

8:00-8:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m.
Call to Order

8:35-8:55 a.m.
Introductory Remarks

9:00 a.m.-Noon
Session I: Endocrinology and Immunology
Integrative Speaker: Christine Heim, Ph.D., Professor of Biobehavioral Health at the Pennsylvania State University 

Noon-1:00 p.m.

1:00-4:00 p.m.
Session II: Brain Development
Integrative Speaker: Martin Teicher, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the McClean Teaching Hospital at Harvard University

Day 2 (Thursday, Oct. 1)

8:30-11:30 a.m.
Session III: Genomics
Integrative Speaker: Michael Meaney, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University 

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

12:30-3:00 p.m.
Session IV: Resilience and Reversibility

3:00-3:45 p.m.
Session V: Opportunities for Translation Panel Discussion
Integrative speakers and session attendees will convene in front of the audience to field questions, facilitate conversations, and enhance discussion.

3:45-4:00 p.m.
Closing Remarks (Jennie Noll)

*Agenda subject to change 


The conference will take place at the historic Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State’s University Park campus. A block of rooms has been reserved from Tuesday, September 29 through Thursday, October 1 at the rate of $125/night with the option of a double or a king bed.

Please use the group code: chii15a. (The code expires Sunday, August 30, 2015.)

Reservations can be made at the Nittany Lion Inn’s website:

If you have problems reserving a room online using the group code, reservations can be made over the phone, toll-free at 800-233-7505.


General Registration

  • $175 Early (until September 7)
  • $225 Regular (beginning September 8)

Penn State Faculty/Staff Registration

  • $15 Wednesday-only PSU Faculty/Staff
  • $15 Thursday-only PSU Faculty/Staff
  • $25 Two-day PSU Faculty/Staff

Penn State Student Registration

  • No fee with student ID number

Student Registration (Non-Penn State)

  • $50 Two-day Non Penn State Student

Conference Fee

The fee covers all instruction, program materials, refreshment breaks, and two lunches. Registrants are responsible for all other meals and lodging.


All registrations and payments must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 24, 2015. After this date, please contact the conference planner at or 814-863-5100 for information about on-site check-in; if space permits, you can register for an additional $30.


Penn State Conferences and Institutes will confirm your registration. You will be alerted promptly of any cancellations or changes. If some unforeseen event forces Penn State to cancel or postpone the program, you will receive a full refund of your registration fee; however, the University cannot be held responsible for any related costs, including cancellation fees assessed by airlines or travel agencies.


If your request to withdraw is received by Wednesday, September 16, we can issue a partial refund. Send your written request by email to or by fax to 814-863-5190. A $50 administrative fee will be charged for each withdrawal.


Anyone who is registered but cannot attend may identify a substitute. A full refund will be issued after the substitution registration has been completed. A registration form and full payment by the substitute are required. Substitutes are eligible to register at the same fee.


Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing special accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the conference planner at 814-863-5100 at least two weeks prior to the conference.


By Air

The State College/University Park Airport (airport code: SCE) is located near the conference site. Call 814-865-5511 or visit the State College/University Park Airport website for information on flights. We recommend that you make the State College/University Park Airport your final airport destination. Please inquire with your hotel if they offer courtesy airport transportation. Taxis are often located outside of the airport baggage claim area, curbside. Participants are responsible for arranging ground transportation between the airport, hotels, and conference site. Please view this University Park Airport Taxis and Shuttles page

By Car

The University Park campus is located within driving distance of many major cities, including Harrisburg (1.5 hrs., 90 mi.), Pittsburgh (3 hrs., 137 mi.), Philadelphia (3.5 hrs., 194 mi.), Baltimore (3.5 hrs., 155 mi.), Washington, D.C. (4 hrs., 190 mi.), New York City (5 hrs., 250 mi.), and Toronto (6.5 hrs., 304 mi.). See our Visitors and Neighbors website for detailed visitor information, including maps.

By Bus

The following companies provide bus service between major cities to State College, Pennsylvania: Greyhound and Megabus

Contact Us

Registration Information

Conferences and Institutes Office
Phone: 814-863-5100

Program Content Information

Sandee Kyler, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network

Phone: 814-867-4061


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are based on a standard of 1 unit per 10 hours of classroom instruction. At the conclusion of this conference, each participant will be awarded the CEUs earned (1.1 for the full program), which will be added to your Penn State Continuing Education transcript.

The Penn State Psychological Clinic is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Psychological Clinic maintains responsibility for the program and its content.  Please contact Dr. Brian Rabian (, if you would like additional information. 

Social Workers
Penn State is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors to provide continuing education courses and programs for these professions under sections 47.36 (a)(3), 48.36 (a)(3), and 49.36 (a)(3) of the Pennsylvania code.

Pennsylvania Act 48
Penn State is an Act 48-approved provider. Prior to enrolling, professional educators are encouraged to confirm that this program fits their school district's professional development plan for Act 48.

Earn 11 hours toward fulfilling Act 48 requirements by attending this entire program.

Penn State will report Act 48 hours to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the educator. Proper authorization is necessary and, to ensure that Act 48 hours are reportable, certain data is required. This includes the educators' last name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Be sure to include this data on your registration. A $50 administrative fee will apply for data that is provided after the program is completed.

For more information, contact Conference Planner Lindsay Miller at 814-863-5132.