Keynote Speakers

Katarina Blom, PhD

Katarina Blom, PhD, is a happiness psychologist who focuses on how we can create sustainable well-being during times of change. Dr. Blom stars in the NBC reality series "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” where she helps individuals not only come to terms with mortality but also enrich their lives by forging deeper connections with loved ones through the treasures passed down within their homes.  Her TEDx Talk, "You Don't Find Happiness, You Create It," has been viewed 5 million times.

In addition to her media work, Dr. Blom is the co-author of two books, Seriously Happy – An Introduction to Positive Psychology and Lonely or Strong – How to Create Successful Teams. She is currently in the process of writing her third book, The We-Brain – The Surprising Science on How Our Connections Make Us Happier, Healthier, And More Resilient.  


Chris Palmer, PMDChris Palmer, MD, is a Harvard psychiatrist and researcher working at the interface of metabolism and mental health. He is the Founder and Director of the Metabolic and Mental Health Program and the Director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For almost 30 years, he has held administrative, educational, research, and clinical roles in psychiatry at McLean and Harvard. 

He has been pioneering the use of the medical ketogenic diet in the treatment of psychiatric disorders—conducting research in this area, treating patients, writing, and speaking around the world on this topic. Most recently, he has proposed that mental disorders can be understood as metabolic disorders affecting the brain, which has received widespread recognition in both national and international media outlets. 

Dr. Palmer received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. He did his internship and psychiatry residency at McLean Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. Palmer leads McLean Hospital’s Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education. In this role, he has developed hundreds of educational conferences, workshops, Grand Rounds, and other professional educational activities, most of them under the aegis of Harvard Medical School. His leadership has transformed the department from a small, subsidized department of the hospital into a flourishing educational program that is now leading mental health education for professionals nationwide. He has held numerous leadership positions in the continuing education field beyond McLean Hospital’s program, including serving on leadership, advisory, and strategic planning committees of Harvard Medical School, Partners Healthcare, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).


Martin Picard, PhD

Martin Picard, PhD directs the Mitochondrial Psychobiology Group at Columbia University Irving Medical School, which investigates organelle-to-organism communication linking the human experience with molecular and energetic processes inside mitochondria. His laboratory has identified novel membrane structures for mitochondrial communication in rare mitochondrial diseases, showed that cell-free mitochondrial DNA (cf-mtDNA) is a psychological stress-inducible molecule detectable in blood and saliva, and developed a mitochondrial health index (MHI) to study the mind-mitochondria connection in immune cells and brain tissue. His group also has established that human hair greying is reversible and linked to life stress, and developed a longitudinal cellular lifespan model that recapitulates trajectories of human epigenetic aging and allostatic load in vitro. Dr. Picard’s translational research program has contributed to defining the diversity of mitochondria across the brain and body, and to longitudinally examining the link between stress, energy expenditure, and the rate of aging at the cellular level. 

With their collaborators, investigators and trainees in the Mitochondrial Psychobiology Group combine clinical, cellular, and computational approaches to understand how energetic processes and perturbations within mitochondria interact with key brain-body processes that shape aging biology and sustain human health. Moving beyond the disease focus of biomedicine, Dr. Picard co-leads a Science of Health initiative aiming to define and quantify individualized health states, a necessary step to accelerate the transition towards sustainable healthcare over the next century. Research on the link between energy, stress, and health from the Mitochondrial Psychobiology Group has been covered in The New York Times, Scientific American, The New Yorker, and on TEDx. 

Dr. Picard received his BSc Honours in neuroimmunology, and PhD in mitochondrial biology of aging at McGill University. He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine with Doug Wallace. There, he worked on mitochondria-mitochondria interactions, mitochondrial reprogramming of the nuclear (epi)genome, and mitochondrial stress pathophysiology along with Bruce McEwen at the Rockefeller University. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2015.


David R. Williams, PhD, MPH, MDivDavid R. Williams, PhD, MPH, MDiv is the Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His prior faculty appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. An internationally recognized social scientist, his research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. He is the author of more than 500 scientific papers, and the Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is the most widely used measure of discrimination in health studies. 

Dr. Williams is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He has been ranked as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences worldwide, and as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. He directed the South African Stress and Health Study, the first nationally representative study of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in sub-Sahara Africa. He was also a key member of the scientific team that conducted the largest study of the mental health of the black population in the U.S. and the first U.S. health study to include a large national sample of Blacks of Caribbean ancestry. 

He has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of inequities in health, including serving as staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America and a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? His research has been featured in the national print and television media and in his TED Talk.