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S01: Transforming the Understanding of Mind-Body Interventions: The Genomics of Stress and Resiliency

10:45 - 12:00, Ashe Auditorium, Third Floor

John Denninger (1,2), Towia Libermann (2,3), Michael Antoni (3), Michael Irwin (5), Manoj Bhasin (2,3)

(1): Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital

(2) Harvard Medical School, United States                                            

(3): Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

(4): University of Miami, United States

(5): University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), United States



The use of genomics to explore the underlying mechanism of mind-body medicine is transforming the way we think about treatments and practices, both ancient and modern, to reduce stress and increase resiliency. This symposium brings together three groups which are applying cutting-edge genomics techniques to determine how mind-body approaches alter the expression of genes involved in fundamental processes such as the inflammatory response. In diverse populations, using a variety of interventions, the immune regulatory molecule NF-kB and its upstream and downstream pathways have emerged as central in the response to mind-body approaches, suggesting that underlying mechanistic commonalities may be involved. Dr. Libermann will present a primer of genomics techniques and discuss their application to mind-body medicine and the study of stress and resiliency. In addition he will touch on strategies that will likely be used in the field in coming years. Dr. Irwin will present findings on the ability of mind-body interventions such as Tai Chi and yoga to alter anti-viral and inflammatory immune response genes, and the relationship of these effects to behavioral morbidities such as insomnia, depression, and fatigue in older adults and in cancer survivor populations. Dr. Antoni will present findings which show that psychosocial interventions that decrease adversity and promote resiliency processes may facilitate psychological adaptation and alter expression of pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic genes in breast cancer patients who are undergoing treatment. Dr. Bhasin will present findings on gene expression changes in response to mind-body interventions which elicit the relaxation response (RR) in both healthy adults and in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He will also discuss the power of systems-biology approaches, which allow the investigation of gene networks, to reveal underlying pathways involved in the mechanism of mind-body approaches.