THEN Center Vision & Goals



By 2025, a multidisciplinary community will design curricula of academic medicine and related health science training programs to include core concepts about childhood adversity, neurodevelopment, lifelong health and health equity, as well as strategies for prevention, mitigation and treatment of consequences of trauma.





Research about the impact of traumatic experience, community violence, poverty, and long-standing discrimination is forcing us to re-examine our existing paradigms of health.  

Recent rapid advances in basic science are making important inroads to uncover interactions between a person’s experience, brain function, and coordination of the neurologic, immune and endocrine systems.  
We are learning how disruption of these systems can result in illness and even early death.



  • A system-based approach:  recognizing that the central nervous system, immune, and endocrine systems are in fact one system, continuously communicating through signal crosstalk.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) may disrupt caregiver-child attachment and derail physiologic development.  Compounded by Adverse Community Experiences (including violence and mass incarceration), trauma is a root cause of our most pressing physical health, mental health and social problems.
  • Experiences of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination are major factors in disease and health disparity.
  • Positive relationships, self-regulation activities, creation of safe and supportive environments, and meeting basic human needs can prevent, mitigate and treat health consequences of household and community adversity.

Despite the rapid growth of this compelling research, the topics of trauma, physiologic basis of health disparity, and neurobiological function still play a limited role in most academic curricula and are not seen as core competencies.




To create a Center of Excellence, based in Chicago, as an Educational Program of Hektoen Institute which:

  • Promotes collaborative, interdisciplinary learning, innovation, clinical and basic science research
  • Develops a curated and annotated bibliography of high impact science articles from related fields
  • Develops and disseminates model curricula for medical and health professional training including core concepts of trauma, health equity, and neurobiology as well as practice recommendations
  • Sponsors local journal club/webinars,  student projects and faculty development seminars
  • Holds a biennial science symposium open to the public