Curriculum vitae

Research interests

Clinical thermopsychology

There is increasing evidence suggesting that individuals with affective disorders exhibit alterations in the perception and processing of temperature. Findings from a number of experimental and survey studies demonstrated that at least some of these alterations may be due to changes in thermoregulatory effectors. In a current series of studies in healthy and clinical samples, the reciprocal relationship between the thermal system and indivual emotions and behaviour is being investigated.

von Salis, S., Ehlert, U. & Fischer, S. (2021). Altered experienced thermoregulation in depression - no evidence for an effect of early life stress. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 620656.

Fischer, S. & Ehlert, U. (2018). Hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis functioning in anxiety disorders. A systematic review. Depression and Anxiety, 35, 98-110.

 

Medically unexplained symptoms, functional somatic syndromes, and somatic symptom disorder

Medically unexplained compaints are present in a third of the patients in primary care and in half of the patients in secondary care. Depending on the prevailing symptoms, they are classified in different chapters of the ICD-10, which often hampers effective treatment. In a number of experiments and ambulatory assessment studies, it was found that a common characteristic of individuals with such conditions are alterations in stress-responsive bodily systems. Further investigations, which will illuminate molecular alterations, are planned.

Fischer, S., Doerr, J. M., Strahler, J., Mewes, R. & Nater, U. M. (2016). Stress exacerbates pain in the everyday lives of women with fibromyalgia syndrome – the role of cortisol and alpha-amylase. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 63, 68-77.

Strahler, J.*, Fischer, S.*, Nater, U.M., Ehlert, U. & Gaab, J. (2013). Norepinephrine and epinephrine responses to physiological and pharmacological stimulation in chronic fatigue syndrome. Biological Psychology, 94, 160-6.

 

Neuroendocrinologically informed psychotherapy

Although a myriad of effective treatments are available for depression and anxiety disorder, only around 50% of patients respond sufficiently. In clinical trials in inpatients and outpatients, it was demonstrated that a number of alterations in different endocrine systems predict responses to standard first-line treatments. In a number of ongoing studies, we are now investigating how we can use endocrine systems to improve psychotherapy success.

Fischer, S., King, S., Papadopoulos, A., Young, A. H., Hotopf, M. & Cleare, A. J. (2018). Hair cortisol and childhood trauma predict psychological therapy response in depression and anxiety disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 138, 526-35

Fischer, S., Gardini, E. S., Haas, F. & Cleare, A. J. (2019). Polymorphisms in genes related to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and antidepressant response - systematic review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 96, 182-96.

Academic and Clinical Appointments

Since 2019 Psychotherapist, Centre for Psychotherapy, University of Zurich
Since 2019 Chief Operating Officer of the psychophysiological laboratory, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich
Since 2016

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Psychology, Clinical  Psychology and Psychotherapy (Prof. Dr. Ulrike Ehlert), University of Zurich

Since 2016 Chief Operating Officer of the biochemical laboratory, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich
2015-2018

Honorary Attachment, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom

2015-2016

Postdoc, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Department of Psychological Medicine, Centre for Affective Disorders (Prof. Anthony Cleare, Prof. Allan Young), King’s College London, Umited Kingdom

2011-2014

Research Associate, Clinical Biopsychology (Prof. Dr. Urs M. Nater), University of Marburg, Germany

2011-2014

Therapist, Outpatient Clinic for Psychological Interventions, University of Marburg, Germany

Academic education

2021 Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Clinical Trial Management (University Hospital Zurich, USZ)
2015 Postgraduate training in biochemical analyses, laboratory of the Affective Disorders Unit of the Bethlem Royal Hospital (Head: Dr. Andrew Papadopoulos), London, United Kingdom
2011-2015

PhD in Psychology (summa cum laude)

Title of doctoral thesis:
“Aetiopathogenesis and phenomenology of medically unexplained conditions” (Prof. Dr. Urs M. Nater, Prof. Rainer Schwarting)

Clinical Biopsychology, University of Marburg, Germany

Clinical education

Since 2022 Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) in cognitive-behavioural Supervision (University of Zurich)
Since 2020 Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Philosophy for Medical Doctors and Psychotherapists (Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich, PUK)
2018 Federal license as clinical psychologist

2017

Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Behavioural Medicine (summa cum laude)

University of Zurich

2010-2016

Postgraduate Training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Institute for Psychotherapy Marburg (Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief), Marburg, Germany

Awards and Fellowships

2022 Early Career Nominee of the University of Zurich for the U21 Workshop on Planetary Health. Universitas21
2021 Early Career Award. International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM)

2021

G. A. Lienert Fellowship for the Promotion of Young Investigators in the Field of Biopsychological Methods. G. A. Lienert Foundation

2021 Young Investigator Virtual Travel Award. European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM)
2020 Selection of the short film «Changing Beliefs about Stress» for screening at the 3rd Global Science Film Festival
2019 Young Investigator Travel Award. European Association of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Treatment (EACLIPT)
2019 GrC Grant for a research visit at the University of Haifa, Israel
2018 Peer Mentoring Award together with Prof. Sarah Schumacher, German Society for Behavioral Medicine and Behavior Modification (DGVM)
2018 Young Investigator Colloquium Award. American Psychosomatic Society (APS)
2016 Irmela Florin Research Prize. German Society for Behavioral Medicine and Behavior Modification (DGVM)
2015-2016 Early Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship. Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
2014 PhD Scholarship. University of Marburg, Department of Psychology
2013 Young Scientist Retreat. German Society for Psychology (DGPs) – Biological Psychology and German Society for Psychophysiology and its Application (DGPA)
2012 Research Assistantship (STIBET). German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Reviewer for scientific journals

i.a. Biological Psychology, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Development and Psychopathology, Hormones and Behavior, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Affective Disorders, Journal of Psychosomatic Research – top reviewer 2019, 2020, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Physiology & Behavior, PLoS One, Psychological Medicine, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychosomatic Medicine, Scientific Reports, Stress

Editorial activities

Since 2020 Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychiatry

Since 2021 Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research

Since 2020 Review Editor of Frontiers in Public Health

2020 Guest Editor of the Verhaltenstherapie Special Issue “Biological markers” together with Dr. Sarah Schumacher

Memberships in scientific societies

Since 2021 Member of the steering committee of the special interest group Young Researchers, European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM)

Since 2020 Member of the Board, International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM)

Since 2019 Member of the Board, German Society for Behavioral Medicine and Behavior Modification (DGVM)

Since 2017 Member of the special interest group Clinical Biopsychology, German Society for Psychology (DGPS)