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Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Christine Heim

Past Speaker of Charité Mental Health, Head of department, University professor, Principal investigator

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Luisenstraße 57
10117 Berlin

Campus / internal address:
Luisenstraße 57

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My research is focused on the psychobiology of stress combined with a developmental and clinical perspective. I am particularly interested in elucidating the precise mechanisms that are involved in the developmental programming of health and disease across the lifespan as a function of early experience. I employ a multidisciplinary approach, integrating psychological, neuroendocrine, immunological, neural, and molecular measures in humans, in order to identify the mechanisms that may underlie biological embedding of early-life stress, leading to increased risk for psychiatric and medical disorders across the lifespan, as well as moderators of such risk. Understanding these mechanisms will enable the development of targeted, pathophysiology-derived interventions that block, reverse or compensate these processes and may open novel avenues to take advantage of early developmental plasticity in order to program lifelong health.



Additional information

Research Impact:

  • Kumulativer Impact-Faktor: 753,9
  • Zitationen(Google Scholar): 38535
  • H-Index (Google Scholar): 67
  • i10-Index (Google Scholar): 116

Selected publications:

  • Knop AJJ, Spengler S, Bogler C, Forster C, Brecht M, Haynes JD, Heim C. Sensory-tactile functional mapping and use-dependent structural plasticity of the human female genital representation field. J Neurosci 2021; 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1081-21.2021
  • Winter SM, Dittrich K, Dörr P, Overfeld J, Moebus I, Murray E, Karaboycheva G, Zimmermann C, Knop A, Voelkle M, Entringer S, Buss C, Haynes JD, Binder EB, Heim C. Immediate impact of child maltreatment on mental, developmental, and physical health trajectories. J Child Psychol Psychiatry;
  • Dammering F, Martins J, Dittrich K, Czamara D, Rex-Haffner M, Overfeld J, de Punder K, Buss C, Entringer S, Winter SM, Binder EB, Heim C. The pediatric buccal epigenetic clock identifies significant ageing acceleration in children with internalizing disorder and maltreatment exposure. Neurobiol Stress 2021; 15:100394.  IF: 7.197
  • Houtepen LC, Vinkers CH, Carrillo-Roa T, Hiemstra M, van Lier PA, Meeus W, Branje S, Heim CM, Nemeroff CB, Mill J, Schalkwyk LC, Creyghton MP, Kahn RS, Joels M, Binder EB, Boks MP. Genome-wide DNA methylation levels and altered cortisol stress reactivity following childhood trauma in humans. Nat Commun 2016; 7:10967
  • Klengel T, Mehta D, Anacker C, Rex-Haffner M, Pruessner JC, Pariante CM, Pace TW, Mercer KB, Mayberg HS, Bradley B, Nemeroff CB, Holsboer F, Heim CM, Ressler KJ, Rein T, Binder EB. Allele-specific FKBP5 DNA demethylation mediates gene-childhood trauma interactions. Nat Neurosci 2013; 16:33-41
  • Heim CM, Mayberg HS, Mletzko T, Nemeroff CB, Pruessner JC. Decreased cortical representation of genital somatosensory field after childhood sexual abuse. Am J Psychiatry 2013; 170:616-623
  • Heim C, Binder EB. Current research trends in early life stress and depression: review of human studies on sensitive periods, gene-environment interactions, and epigenetics. Exp Neurol 2012; 233:102-111
  • Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci 2009; 10:434-445
  • Heim C, Young LJ, Newport DJ, Mletzko T, Miller AH, Nemeroff CB. Lower CSF oxytocin concentrations in women with a history of childhood abuse. Mol Psychiatry 2009; 14:954-958
  • Heim C, Newport DJ, Heit S, Graham YP, Wilcox M, Bonsall R, Miller AH, Nemeroff CB. Pituitaryadrenal and autonomic responses to stress in women after sexual and physical abuse in childhood. JAMA 2000; 284:592-597

Functions / offices

  • Professor (W3) and Director of Institute of Medical Psychology, Charité Center for Health and Human Sciences (CC1), Charité − Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Berlin University Alliance, Berlin, Germany
  • Incoming Speaker, Charité Mental Health
  • Research Professor of Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
  • Principal Investigator NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG EXC 2049), Charité, Berlin, Germany
  • Faculty, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Berlin, Germany
  • Fellow, Max Planck School of Cognition, Germany
  • Faculty, Einstein Center for Neurosciences, Berlin, Germany
  • Faculty, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, Social Science Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
  • Coordinator/PI, Research Network, Pediatric Medicine and Lifelong Health, 01GL1743, BMBF, Understanding and Mitigating the Impact of Early-Life Stress on Disease Risk: Towards Developmental Programming of Lifelong Health (Kids2Health)
  • Member, Steering Committee 4 ("Promoting Talent"), Berlin University Alliance, Berlin, Germany