Ehrenkranz Laboratory

The Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Laboratory for the Study of Human Resilience aims to understand what constitutes human biological and psychological resilience, and to translate this understanding into more effective therapies that improve patient outcomes.

About stress and resilience

Stress is an inherent part of the human experience, and has a profound impact on biology and behavior. In a biological context, researchers define stress as a factor or event that causes bodily or mental tension, and generally requires a response to re-establish equilibrium (homeostasis). Stress is neither inherently good nor bad. However, stress that is chronic or severe, overwhelming the capacity of an individual to respond adaptively, is a major cause of mental health problems and medical disability.

Stress is the greatest risk factor for depression, and depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide—and the primary cause of suicide. Severe or chronic stress is also the primary driver of anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Resilience plays a huge role in mitigating the symptoms of these disorders and maintaining healthy functioning in the face of stress. We now understand that resilience is an active process, and that it is based on specific biological and psychological processes. We also know that resilience to stress can be enhanced in individuals through targeting these processes through behavioral, cognitive, or biological approaches.

Driven by recent advances in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry, we are now poised to convert scientific knowledge into urgently needed interventions to enhance resilience and to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other maladaptive undesirable outcomes of extreme stress.