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VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series

The VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series was created in an effort to educate and help the research community stay abreast on the world’s most pressing research topics.

During each of their visits, invited lecturers will meet with UTHSC administration, faculty and staff to share ideas and foster collaborative efforts centered on education, research and entrepreneurial ventures. They will also deliver a scientific lecture to the UTHSC community.




“The Psychobiology and Genetics of Human Personality”

Presented by C. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, Wallace Renard Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Genetics and Psychology; Director, Sansone Family Center for Well-Being; Washington University School of Medicine

When: October 18, 2018 from Noon-1pm
Where: The Freeman Auditorium (930 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor)

Lecture Abstract

Human personality traits are strongly predictive of a person's overall risk and burden of medical disease from all sources. In addition, they are predictive of health and well-being in general, and so represent a target for understanding that could greatly improve health promotion and health care. Nearly 1,000 genes for human personality have now been identified using newly developed methods for genome-wide association studies that allow for gene-gene and gene-environment interaction. These genes explain nearly all the heritability of human personality expected from twin studies (50%). These genes are organized in specific molecular pathways that regulate 3 major systems of learning and memory in human beings: (i) behavioral conditioning of habits and skills, (ii) intentional learning of goals and social relationships, and (3) autobiographical learning of a personal life narrative as episodes in a spatiotemporal context. These 3 major systems can be identified as profiles of multiple dimensions of personality measured by the Temperament and Character Inventory. Initially, the model was described on the basis of neurobiological studies in non-human animals supplemented by genetic and neuropharmacological studies in human beings. The early animal studies have now been confirmed by extensive human research using functional brain imaging, psychophysiological, and genetic studies. In addition, the evolution of human brain functions underlying personality structure and function has been studied through genome-wide association studies in human beings and their ancestors. Implications of the available data will be discussed in relation to how our emerging understanding of the genetics, biology and psychology of personality can benefit health promotion and health care, as well as reducing health costs.

About Dr. Cloninger

C. Robert Cloninger is Wallace Renard Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Genetics, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Director of the Sansone Family Center for Well-Being at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is also Scientific Director of the Anthropedia Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to development of human well-being through initiatives in health care and education. He is widely cited and honored for his innovative biopsychosocial research that spans the genetics, neurobiology, development, psychology, brain imaging, and assessment of personality and psychopathology. His personality inventories have been used in more than 6000 peer-reviewed publications around the world.
He received his BA with High Honors and Special Honors in Philosophy, Psychology, and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, 1966. He received his MD from Washington University in 1970, and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Umea in 1983 (MD in Genetics) and University of Gothenburg in 2012 (PhD in Psychology).  
Dr. Cloninger has published ten books and over 500 articles in psychiatry, psychology, and genetics. His recent books include Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being by Oxford University Press, Origins of Altruism and Cooperation by Springer, and Personality and Psychopathology by American Psychiatric Press. Among his many awards, Dr. Cloninger has received the American Psychiatric Association’s Adolf Meyer Award (1993) and Judd Marmor Award (2009), and lifetime achievement awards from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (2000) and the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (2003). He received the Oskar Pfister Award in 2014 from the American Association of Professional Chaplains and the American Psychiatric Association for his contributions to dialogue between psychiatry, religion, and spirituality. He is a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and of the National Academy of Medicine in the USA. 

For more information on the upcoming Fall 2018 series, please see the Upcoming Schedule webpage. To see an archive of past presentations, please see the Recorded Lectures webpage.

Last Published: Sep 10, 2018