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Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Yerkes Researcher

Phone: 404-727-7739

Fax: 404-727-8070


Lab Web Site:


Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who was elected as a member of the 2012 class of the Institute of Medicine, researches the molecular and cellular mechanisms of fear learning and the process of extinction of fear in mouse models and in humans with fear-related disorders. The primary objective of the work in the Ressler lab is to use the power of molecular genetics to understand the molecular biology, neural circuitry and behavioral biology of fear and extinction of fear in mouse models.

Ressler is also a practicing psychiatrist with an interest in translational and clinical research on fear-based psychiatric disorders. His clinical psychiatry research, conducted at Grady Memorial Hospital, focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he is a leader in the area of genetic underpinnings of fear and anxiety disorders. Ressler hopes that by understanding how fear works in the mammalian brain in the laboratory, it will improve understanding of and provide translational treatments and possibly prevention for fear-based disorders, such as PTSD, phobic disorders and panic disorder.

Ressler has been the principal or co-principal investigator on more than 10 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as multiple foundation grants, including the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He has trained 10 PhD students and 12 postdoctoral fellows.

In addition, he serves as a member of the NIH Learning and Memory study section, he is on the Simons Foundation grant review board for Genetics of Autism, he is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Department of Defense (DOD)-funded InTrusT program for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, and he is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of NIH/DOD funded Army Study To Assess Risk/Resilience in Service members (STARRS) Project.

Ressler has received many international honors, including the 2011 Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the 2011 inaugural Eva King Killiam Award for Outstanding Translational Research from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the 2011 Emil Kraepelin Guest Professorship at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.  Locally, he received a 2012 Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor Award from the Emory University School of Medicine and the Laney Graduate School.

Ressler collaborates with a number of researchers at Yerkes, including Drs. Jocelyne Bachevalier, Chris Muly, Stella Pappa, Todd Preuss, Donald Rainnie, Lary Walker, Mark Wilson and Larry Young.

Dr. Ressler was recently featured in an article in Nature. To read more about it, please click here.


View publications on PubMed