Organising Committee

Ms Stéfanie Fréel

Stéfanie Fréel has over 10 years of experience in public health, working across non-governmental, governmental, multilateral, academic and private sector settings. She has worked across a range of health issues including mental and brain health, ageing, health equity, and health systems strengthening, at local, national and international levels. She has extensive consulting experience having worked in the healthcare strategy consulting industry and as an independent consultant with clients including biomedical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as NGOs and academic research networks. Previously, Stéfanie worked for the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Canada, the German Federal Foreign Office and other global not-for-profit and research organizations. She has experience developing both health and inter-sectoral policies and strategies at sub-national, national and global levels, leading complex strategic and operational projects across institutions and building multi-stakeholder partnerships. Stéfanie holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master in Global Affairs from the University of Toronto, Canada, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Psychiatry at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has published and presented on topics covering mental health, dementia, health technology and health system strengthening. Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Stéfanie is a native English and French speaker, with basic proficiency in Spanish and German.

Prof Miranda Olff

Gender and PTSD, from trauma to treatment. Prof. Dr. Miranda Olff is leading the Center for Psychological Trauma at the department of Psychiatry at the Amsterdam UMC of the University of Amsterdam. Chair: ‘Neurobiological mechanisms of prevention and treatment in trauma and PTSD’. She is Director of Research & Strategy at the ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre. She is the past president of both the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS) and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). She has recently been trained in Corporate Governance. Miranda Olff is Editor-in-Chief of ESTSS’s Open Access journal: the European Journal of Psychotraumatology (EJPT). Her research focuses on the psychological and biological responses to traumatic stress and the effects of (early) interventions (e.g. oxytocin or e-Health) after mass trauma or individual events. In 2019 she received the “Wolter de Loos Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychotraumatology in Europe.”

Prof Ulrich Schnyder

Evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD: Differences, commonalities, and future directions. Ulrich Schnyder, M.D., is a psychiatrist and licensed psychotherapist. He is emeritus professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy at University of Zurich. Until 2018, he was head of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland. His scientific activities are currently focused on various aspects of traumatic stress research, including epidemiology, neurobiology, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for PTSD, resilience to stress, and, more recently, refugee mental health, and the emotional, psychosocial and physical consequences of child maltreatment. He is a Past President of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS), the World Federation for Psychotherapy (WFP), and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). In 2013, he received the ESTSS Wolter de Loos Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychotraumatology in Europe, and in 2016 the ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award.

Prof Soraya Seedat

Neuroethics of psychedelic treatment for PTSD. Soraya Seedat is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. She holds the South African Research Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder funded by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. She is the Director of the South African Medical Research Council Genomics of Brain Disorders Research Unit and held the South African Research Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder funded by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation for 15 years. She has more than 20 years of clinical, epidemiological and basic neuroscience research experience as a psychiatrist working in the field of traumatic stress and anxiety. She has experience in research ethics and is currently a member of Stellenbosch University’s Senate Research Ethics Committee and a Board Member of the ISTSS.

Dr Georgina Spies

Dr Georgina Spies is a senior research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University. She has been a researcher in Psychiatry for 15 years and member of the South African Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Research Programme of Excellence, the SAMRC Genomics of Brain Disorders Extramural Research Unit, the Working Group for Imaging and Genetics in Neuroscience, and The Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress. Her research interest lies primarily in HIV and traumatized populations. She is involved in studies on early life stress, PTSD, COVID-19, and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. She has been involved in various HIV and traumatic stress related research studies, including a longitudinal behavioural, genetics, cognitive and imaging study in HIV-infected women with histories of early life stress. Most recently, as a member of The Child Trauma Network, she has been investigating socio-emotional processes of childhood maltreatment. Georgina serves as an Associate Editor on the Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Dr Jacqueline Womersley

Dr Jacqueline Womersley is a senior research scientist in the Stellenbosch University Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Medical Research Council/Stellenbosch University Genomics of Brain Disorders Extra-Mural Unit. She has a broad background in neuroscience research, having completed a PhD in neurophysiology and postdoctoral fellowships in psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. Jacqueline is involved in a range of biological psychiatry studies examining childhood trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, aggression, HIV, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and substance use. She has conducted research related to stress for the past 15 years, and has a particular interest in the biological mechanisms underlying risk and resilience for adverse outcomes following early adversity.