13th Annual Zurich Trauma Days
on Epigenetics and Trauma

Dr. Bernhard Kegel, Dr. Peter A. Levine, Prof. Isabelle Mansuy


Date: 24 Jun 2023
25 Jun 2023
26 Jun 2023
Time: each 10:00–17:30

Teacher: Dr. Bernhard Kegel (DE)
Dr. Peter A. Levine (USA)
Prof. Dr. Isabelle Mansuy (Fr)
Language: English translated into German
und Deutsch mit Übersetzung ins Englische
Costs: CHF 870

Day passes at 320 CHF available in limited numbers

June 24th, 2023
Presenter: Prof. Dr. Isabelle Mansuy (Fr)

Presentation 1
Heritability of traits and diseases induced by life experiences and the environment.

The identity and features of each individual are a combination of innate (natural) traits and traits acquired by experience. For a long time, it was believed that only innate traits are inherited and can be passed to descendants because they are carried by the genetic material given by the parents, and that in contrast, acquired traits can only be built during life and are not heritable. Recent research in humans and animal models however changed this view and revealed that acquired traits can also be transferred from parent to offspring, just like innate traits. This is a radical paradigm shift that has extremely important consequences for health and disease. This is because life experiences such as traumatic events, violence and abuse, poor diet or exposure to endocrine disruptors, particularly during childhood, are known to severely affect mental and physical health in exposed individuals. If their effects can be transmitted, this suggests that the health in children and perhaps grand-children of exposed people can also be affected. The first lecture will describe current literature on the heritability of traits and diseases resulting from life experiences and environmental exposure.

Presentation 2
Beyond genes: How acquired traits can be passed from parent to offspring.

Innate traits are determined by the genetic material inherited from parents in reproductive cells (oocyte and spermatozoa). This genetic material carries the genetic code in the form of DNA, a complex molecule present in the nucleus and mitochondria of cells. The DNA itself carries genes, which are specific sequences that occupy about 1-2% of the whole DNA and code for proteins. The rest of the DNA (98-99%%) is made of sequences in-between genes that do not code for any protein but have important regulatory functions. Although essential for individual identity, the genetic code is not the only determinant of individual features. The epigenetic code is equally important. The epigenetic (non-genetic) code or epigenome is formed by a set of modifications and marks present on and around the DNA that control the activity of genes and of regulatory sequences in-between genes. Epigenetic marks are multiple, dynamic and act in combination. They are materialized by biochemical modifications on the DNA itself such as methylation, and on histone proteins associated with the DNA such as acetylation, phosphorylation and methylation. Non-coding RNAs, molecules synthetized from regulatory DNA sequences and present in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells, also play a critical role. Unlike the DNA sequence which is relatively stable over time, epigenetic marks and non-coding RNAs can be modified by the environment and life experiences. They are dynamically changed and in some cases, their changes can be long-lasting. Recent research revealed that epigenetic marks and RNA can be transmitted via reproductive cells from parent to offspring and that their changes resulting from environmental exposure and life exposure can have functional consequences in descendants. This 2nd course will show the importance of epigenetic marks in reproductive cells and their contribution to behavioural and physiological features in exposed individuals and their descendants. The focus will be on epigenetic factors related to trauma and stress and their study in mouse models. The latest research on possible mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance will be discussed.

Sunday, June 25th, 2023

Dr. Peter A. Levine (USA)

Healing through our Ancestors, Part 1
Making the Invisible, Visible
A Journey from Hauntings to Wholeness

We tend to believe in free will. That it is WE who ultimately determines our destinies; that we are the captains of our own ships. However, in experiencing depth therapy and honest reflection, we soon realize that this is an illusion. We discover, rather, that our seemingly independent choices are built upon a shaky foundation. A foundation created by the influence our parents and caregivers had upon our developing brains, bodies and minds. However, this narrow “Freudian” world view of trauma in infancy and childhood is quite limited.

Unbeknown to us, we may be even more influenced by events and circumstances that our ancestors (and their ancestors in turn) had experienced during their lifetimes, and which are far outside of our conscious awareness. However, these lingering “ghosts” still have powerful influences on our emotions, reactions, behaviors and choices.
In this day presentation, Dr Levine will demonstrate these principles and will also offer some group exercises.

Monday, June 26th, 2023

Dr. Peter A. Levine (USA)
Healing through our Ancestors, Part 2
Making the Invisible, Visible
A Journey from Hauntings to Wholeness

Dr. Bernhard Kegel

Bernhard Kegel is one of Germany's most renowned science writers. Born in Berlin in 1953, he studied biology and chemistry at Freie Universität and received his doctorate in natural sciences from TU Berlin in 1991.
Afterwards, he led a zoological inventory of urban nature reserves for the Berlin Senate. At the same time, he began writing and has worked as a freelance journalist since 1996. …

Dr. Peter A. Levine

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. (USA) is the originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing® and the President of the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He holds doctorate degrees in both Medical Biophysics and Psychology. During his forty plus year study of stress and trauma, Dr. Levine has contributed to a variety of scientific, medical, and popular publications. His best selling book, Waking the …

Prof. Dr. Isabelle Mansuy

Prof. Dr. Isabelle Mansuy, a french national, studied at the Université Louis Pasteur (ULP), Strasbourg, France and at the École Superieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg where she got degrees in Biotechnology Engineering and Molecular Biology. She has been promoted to a Full Professor of Neuroepigenetics (dual professorship with the University of Zurich) in 2013. She started …

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