For several years, Koenen led a major effort at the Stanley Center to begin filling yawning gaps in psychiatric genetic studies among African populations. She collaborated with researchers in four countries to collect DNA samples from 40,000 subjects suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other disorders. She also conducted research on PTSD among war veterans and on the long-term effects of early childhood trauma.

“It was an enormous effort,” Hyman said. “She’s a great team builder, and with her teams, she created a remarkable program.”

In 2021, the Broad started the Biology of Trauma Initiative, with Koenen as its leader. The initiative seeks to understand the biological underpinnings of trauma, which, in addition to mental and emotional effects, has been linked to physical conditions like cardiovascular disease and autoimmune conditions.