Science Faculty Spotlight: Danielle S. Berke

January 19, 2021

Danielle S. Berke

Dr. Danielle S. Berke, assistant professor of Psychology at Hunter College and faculty of the Health Psychology and Clinical Science and Basic and Applied Social Psychology Training areas has recently been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of traumatic stress, violence and discrimination experiences on transgender and gender diverse New Yorkers and to deliver a tailored violence prevention program to these communities.

The first project, a 4-yr NIGMS-sponsored SC3 grant, "Trajectories of Adaptation to Traumatic Stress in a Vulnerable Population," uses a longitudinal multi-method design to assess biopsychosocial influences of traumatic stress and minority stress on mental health risk and resilience pathways among transgender and gender diverse trauma survivors living in New York City.

The second, a 2-yr NIMHD-sponsored R21 grant, "Empowerment Self-Defense Training for the Prevention of Victimization of Transgender Women" will develop, refine, and deliver a tailored empowerment-based violence prevention program for diverse transgender women and assess its preliminary feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy in a pilot trial conducted in partnership with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of New York (The Center).

Many transgender individuals experience violence (e.g., sexual violence, physical assault) and discrimination as an ongoing threat in daily life. These stressors and threats to safety can have serious impacts on long-term health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, transgender individuals have been left out of much of the research. In order to address the ongoing and unmet public health needs of transgender individuals, it is important to understand how discrimination interrupts trauma recovery and to deliver programs that effectively reduce threats to safety for transgender people.