Stephan Heckers, MD, MSc

William P. and Henry B. Test Professor & Department Chair
Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital
1601 23rd Avenue South
Room / Suite
(615) 322-2665

Dr. Stephan Heckers joined the Vanderbilt Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 2006 as Department Chair. He is a member of several editorial boards and the Scientific Council of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD). For further details, see the Curriculum Vitae below.

Dr. Heckers is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder. He takes care of patients, who experience acute psychotic episodes, at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and leads a multi-disciplinary specialty clinic for patients with psychotic disorders.

For the last 30 years, Dr. Heckers has studied the neural basis of psychotic disorders. He has combined anatomical and functional methods, ranging from post-mortem studies of hippocampal neuron number and gene expression to imaging studies of hippocampal structure and function. In the context of these studies he has applied existing and developed novel experimental paradigms to explore hippocampal function in patients with psychotic disorders. He is now conducting longitudinal studies investigating changes in hippocampal structure and function in the early stage of psychosis.

For more information, click here.

Selected Publications

  1. Heckers S, Heinsen H, Geiger B, Beckmann H. Hippocampal neuron number in schizophrenia. A stereological study. Archives of General Psychiatry 1991; 48: 1002-8.
  2. Heckers S, Rauch SL, Goff D, Savage CR, Schacter DL, Fischman AJ, Alpert NM. Impaired recruitment of the hippocampus during conscious recollection in schizophrenia. Nature Neuroscience 1998; 1: 318-323.
  3. Heckers S, Stone D, Walsh J, Shick J, Koul P, Benes FM. Differential hippocampal expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 and 67 messenger RNA in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 2002; 59: 521-529.
  4. Ongur D, Cullen TJ, Wolf DH, Rohan M, Barreira P, Zalesak M, Heckers S.  The neural basis of relational memory of deficits in schizophrenia.  Archives of General Psychiatry 2006; 63: 356-365.
  5. Holt DJ, Kunkel L, Weiss AP, Geoff DC, Wright CI, Shin LM, Rauch SL, Hootnick J, Heckers S.  Increased medical temporal lobe activation during the passive viewing of emotional and neutral facial expressions in schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Research 2006; 82: 153-162.
  6. Lisman JE, Coyle JT, Green RW, Javitt DC, Benes FM, Heckers S, Grace AA.  Circuit-based framework for understanding neurotransmitter and risk gene interactions in schizophrenia. Trends in Neurosciences 2008; 31: 234-242.
  7. Williams LE, Must A, Avery S, Woolard A, Woodward ND,  Cohen NJ, Heckers S. Eye-movement behavior reveals relational memory impairment in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 2010; 68: 617-624. PMID: 20655509, PMCID: PMC3184178.
  8. Heckers S, Barch DM, Bustillo J, Gaebel W, Gur RE, Malaspina D, Owen MJ, Schultz S, Tandon R, Tsuang MT, Van Os J, Carpenter W. Structure of the psychotic disorders classification in DSM-5. Schizophrenia Research 2013; 150:11-14. PMID: 23707641.
  9. Heckers S, Konradi C. GABAergic mechanisms of hippocampal hyperactivity in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research 2015; 167:4-11. PMID: 25449711.
  10. Walther S, Stegmayer K, Wilson JE, Heckers S. Structure and neural mechanisms of catatonia. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019; 6:610-619. PMID: 31196794.