Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute
Department of Psychiatry
University of Michigan

Recently we had the opportunity to interview Srijan Sen, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Dr. Sen is the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Emerging Scholar in the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Institute.

Through an in-depth conversation about depression and suicide, we gained a better understanding of the work that Dr. Sen is doing.

While there has been growing interest in gene-stress interactions in depression over the past decade, progress has been limited because the onset of stressful situations is difficult to predict beforehand, and because the type of stress encountered varies widely between individuals. Dr. Sen’s primary project seeks to overcome these barriers by studying medical interns as a model of individuals under stress.

Medical internship, the first year of professional physician training, presents a unique situation where the onset of a uniform, chronic stressor can be prospectively predicted, with about half of medical interns getting depressed during the year. Dr. Sen’s laboratory is using cutting edge genomic techniques in the internship sample to identify common and rare genetic variation involved in moderating the relationship between stress and depression.

Our conversation led to the understanding that for an aspiring doctor, the pressure to excel in their chosen profession can take them on a journey lasting years. The career path that so often comes with, long work hours, frequent failure and extreme financial burden, the chance of a student to fall into a depressed state is quite common.

As with other long term endeavors, these individuals find themselves deciding after years of focus and hard work that quite possible the medical profession is not what they want to pursue for the rest of their lives.

This unraveling of their life may offer a form of relief but, at the same time, can create a permanent and social conflict with family and loved ones. So often they may feel pressured to surge on.

As Dr. Sen explained, some make it through but not all do.

Dr. Sen then went on to helping us understand how professions such as first responders and EMT personnel can create a perfect storm for depression. Dr. Sen explained as with soldiers, so often what you see and experience can have a lasting impact on the mind

We are thrilled to have Dr. Sen as a part of our team for this film.