Dirk Hellhammer Award

The International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (ISPNE) awarded the prestigious Curt Richter Award since 2000 to a distinguished line of young investigators in the field of psychoneuroendocrinology.

The Curt Richter Award was renamed in 2021 to honour our friend and colleague Dirk Hellhammer (1947-2018). Dirk was a pioneer of psychoneuroendocrinology, contributing some of most important and enduring progress in our field, from the Trier Social Stress Test to the characterization of the cortisol awakening response. Dirk headed ISPNE as its president from 2002 to 2005, and received the ISPNE Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

The 2024 Dirk Hellhammer Award will be given by the Society during its Annual Meeting that will take place virtually on September 12th and 13th, 2024. The award consists of an honorarium, an award certificate, a plaque, a travel grant of up to US $1,000 to attend an annual meeting (this can be used to attend the 2025 in-person meeting in New Orleans), and exemption from membership dues to the Society for three years.  The awardee will present their award talk at the 2024 virtual meeting, and receive their award plaque in person at the 2025 in-person meeting.

Applicants must be 45 years of age or younger by June 30, 2024. The manuscript must be a report of original, never-published research in basic or clinical psychoneuroendocrinology. It may also be an integrative comprehensive new discussion of the author’s previously published findings. The manuscript should be prepared using the ISPNE Journal (Psychoneuroendocrinology) guidelines for preparation of manuscripts for publication. Following peer review, the manuscript will be automatically submitted for publication in the Journal and the award recipient will present the research at a plenary session during the Annual Meeting.
The Dirk Hellhammer Award is sponsored by Elsevier, which underwrites the honorarium and travel expenses for the awardee, as well as providing a year’s complimentary access to ScienceDirect and Scopus. Through these online services, the awardee is able to access all Elsevier journals. ISPNE wishes to thank Elsevier for its continuing support of our Dirk Hellhammer awards program.
Applicants should submit a copy of: (a) the manuscript; (b) curriculum vitae with list of publications; (c) and statement from the applicant (no more than one page, single-spaced) describing the applicant’s main achievements and future directions.

The deadline for submissions is June 15th, 2024.

Applications should be sent via email with “Dirk Hellhammer Award” as the subject line to ISPNE President Emma Adam at the following e-mail address: [email protected].



ISPNE 2023 Dirk Hellhammer Award Recipients 

Robert Kumsta, PhD
University of Luxemburg 

Robert Kumsta was appointed Professor of Biopsychology at the University of Luxemburg in May 2021. He studied psychology at the University of Trier, Germany, and received his Ph.D. in Psychobiology from the University of Trier in 2007. Funded by a postdoctoral fellowship from the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, he joined the MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, to study the effects of severe institutional deprivation in the English and Romanian Adoptees Study. From 2010 until 2013, he held a Research Fellow position at the Laboratory for Biological and Personality Psychology at the University of Freiburg. Since October 2013, Robert Kumsta has been Professor and Chair of Genetic Psychology at Ruhr University Bochum.

 One of his major research goals is to establish a better mechanistic understanding of how early psychosocial risk is ‘biologically embedded’ and increases the risk of long term health problems. A particular focus is on the role of stress physiology and the oxytocin system. Furthermore, he is interested in mechanisms of gene-environment interplay and epigenetic processes.

Using a range of methods, including the study of genetic variation, gene expression patterns, epigenetics, multi-comics integration, as well as the characterization of stress physiology, he is trying to understand how genetic and environmental factors work together to shape developmental trajectories and outcomes across the life-span.








Elizabeth A. (Birdie) Shirtcliff, PhD
University of Oregon

Elizabeth A. (Birdie) Shirtcliff, PhD, is a research professor at the University of Oregon and director of the Stress Physiology in Teens (SPIT) laboratory in the Center for Translational Neuroscience. Dr. Shirtcliff received her doctorate in biobehavioral health from Pennsylvania State University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in affective neuroscience. In 2023, Dr. Shirtcliff became the editor in chief of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology and consulting editor for Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology. Dr. Shirtcliff uses a variety of noninvasive tools to investigate the interplay of biological and behavioral factors unfolding across children's lives, especially in adolescence. Dr. Shirtcliff's focus is on hormones because the endocrine system is stress responsive, often mirroring a child's social environment. This interdisciplinary research examines both short-term stress responses, as well as biological changes that can consistently or even permanently change an individual's biology. Dr. Shirtcliff’s interdisciplinary leanings are revealed in this manuscript as it shows collaborative efforts between engineering, neuroscience and social science by exploring Virtual Reality Stressors.




Dirk Hellhammer Award Winners

(renamed from the Curt Richter Award in 2021)


2012: Rebecca Reynolds

1998: E Hogervorst

2023: Robert Kumsta &
Elizabeth (Birdie) Shirtcliff

2011: Nicolas Rohleder

1997: Delia Vazquez                     

2022: Daniel Quintana

2010: Firdaus Dhabar

1996: Andrew Miller

2021: Annamaria Cattaneo

2009: Christian Otte                               

1995: Rachel Yehuda

2020: Rachel Hill

2008: Jens Pruessner

1994: Errol de Souza

2019: Shannon Gourley

2007: Christine Heim

1993: Zoltan Sarnyai

2018: Eli Puterman

2006: Courtney deVries

1992: Owen Wolkowitz

2017: Jason Radley

2005: Elissa Epel

1991: Thomas Insel

2016: Stefan Reber

2004: Sonia Lupien

1989: Elizabeth Hampson

2015: Claudia Buss &
Sonja Entringer

2003: Carmine Pariante

1987: Fred Turek

2014: Katja Wingenfeld

2002: Rainer Rupprecht

1985: Charles Nemeroff

 2013: Emma Adam

2001: Serge Rivest

1984: Philip Gold


 1999: Benno Roozendaal

1980: John Carman