About CNS

About CNS

The Center for Neurobiology of Stress (CNS) is an interdisciplinary, translational Center funded by the National Institutes of Health, and by philanthropic support. There is both a clinical and a research component to the CNS.

With the naming of the Center in recognition of the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family’s generous support in the area of mind brain body research, we are planning to expand our research in this area, in the hope to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of health and chronic disease, in particular the role of stress in altering brain body interactions.

The long-term goal of the Center is to develop novel, integrative and cost effective disease management programs for chronic diseases which take mind, brain and body into account.



The overall research goal of the CNS is to better understand the interface between mind brain and body in health and disease, and to develop novel management strategies for complex chronic disorders based on this integrative view.

Based on the seminal work of Center investigators over the past 20 years on the interactions between the digestive system and the brain in the pathophysiology of common chronic abdominal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and chronic abdominal pain, the Center has expanded its research into other chronic diseases in which the nervous system plays an important modulatory role. These include other chronic disorders such as Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease), obesity, as well as non-gastrointestinal syndromes such as Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome.

In all these syndromes, Center investigators are studying the interface between pain, stress and emotion, with a particular emphasis on sex-related differences in disease mechanisms and treatment responses.

The role of the brain as an important component of the disease process is being studied using the most advanced neuroimaging techniques to identify functional and structural abnormalities of the brain, and relate them to specific symptoms and peripheral disease markers, including findings on mucosal biopsies. Most recently, the Center has formed a collaboration with the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia program to study brain heart interactions in the pathophysiology of refractory cardiac arrhytmias.


The clinical arm of the center is composed of internationally renowned experts in the areas of chronic visceral pain disorders (including but not limited to irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, cyclical vomiting syndrome, functional dyspepsia, painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis, chronic pelvic pain), and chronic visceral and somatic pain syndromes in children. The clinical approach is based on the most advanced scientific knowledge combined with various traditional mind body approaches such as relaxation training, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, meditation and Yoga.

Center investigators aim to develop more cost effective integrative disease management strategies for these disorders, which will include the evaluation of both novel pharmacological as well as mind body based approaches.


The Center is comprised of 23 faculty members with a total annual research budget of over $ 5 M in 2010, based on federal grants from the NIDDK, the ORWH and NCCAM. The Program in Mind Body research has been generously supported by the Oppenheimer Family Foundation.