About CNS

About CNS

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

To Bring the Brain Back into Medicine

To develop novel, integrative and cost effective programs to optimize health and to treat chronic diseases which take the intricate interactions between mind, brain and body into consideration.

The overall research goal of the CNS is to better understand the interface between mind brain and body in health and disease, to develop novel management strategies for optimal health and 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 diseases include Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease), obesity and Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, as well as non-gastrointestinal pain syndromes such as Bladder Pain Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia.

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, structural and metabolic abnormalities of the brain, and identify correlations of these brain signatures with clinical symptoms and peripheral endophenotypes, including immunological, genetic and gut microbial factors. The Center collaborates with the 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.

Center investigators are also exploring novel screening techniques which aim to determine the resilience and vulnerability of asymptomatic individuals to later disease.

The Center is comprised of 20 faculty members with a total annual research budget of over $ 5 M in 2014, based on federal grants from NIDDK, ORWH, NCCAM, NIDA and NINDS. The The Center has been generously supported by the Oppenheimer Family Foundation and the Hazan Foundation.