Collaboration in PTSD studies between UZH and Ilia State Univ. Tbilisi, Georgia

The project is aimed at knowledge transfer between University of Zurich and Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. PA from the Switzerland is Prof. Andreas Maercker and Co-PAs from Georgia are Proff. Jana Javakhishvili and Nino Makhashvili. The project goal is to establish closer collaboration in the field of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) between above mentioned universities and foster research and exchange.

The objectives are:

  • Introduce contemporary research and directions in trauma field to Georgian colleagues, especially processes around WHO ICD-11 classificatory system;
  • Expose Georgian colleagues to Switzerland university-level education processes, namely how PTSD-related topics are taught at masters’ level;
  • Support in developing PhD program in mental health oriented at psychological trauma;
  • To promote contacts and cooperation between young talents/young minds (advanced students) from University of Zurich and Ilia State University.

Georgia is a country that experienced a number of military conflicts in recent years, since early 90s with a big population of war-affected internally displaced persons  - around 6% of the population. The burden of common mental disorders (especially, PTSD) is still high among these groups (Makhashvili et al, 2014[1]). In addition, the population still suffers from the inter-generational effects of trauma related to the totalitarian past (Javakhishvili, 2014[2]).

The Co-PAs are affiliated with Ilia State University, one of the leading research and educational institutions in Georgia. The Co-PAs have established a resource center on mental health in 2011 and developed a Masters’ Program on Mental health in 2012. The program has 2 directions: social psychiatry and PTSD studies. Each year the program accepts a number of experienced and motivated students on a competitive base.

The project will bring a new knowledge, motivation and experiences to master students of Ilia University by involving them into workshops lead by Prof. Maercker. New directions of ICD-11, new trends of PTSD research, networking and exchange would benefit them. The Co-PAs will be also gain from the exchange visit as they will observe Zurich University research excellence activities, meet with colleagues and students and discuss possibilities of joint studies and also developing a new PhD program in the PTSD field. In particular, a study focusing on cross-cultural differences in symptomatic representation of PTSD will be planned that bring together main research interests of the two sides (e.g. Maercker et al., 2018[3]).

[1]Makhashvili, N., Chikovani, I., McKee, M., Bisson, J.I., Patel, V., Roberts, B. (2014). Mental Disorders and Their Association With Disability Among Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees in Georgia. In: Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 27(5), Pg: 509-518;

[2]Javakhishvili, J.D. (2014). Soviet Legacy in Contemporary Georgia: A Psychotraumatological Perspective. In: Identity Studies, Vol.1(5), Pg:20-40;

[3]Maercker, A., Heim, E. & Kirmayer. L.I. (2018). Cultural clinical psychology and PTSD. Boston: Hogrefe International.



Prof. Andreas Maercker Ph.D., M.D.
University of Zurich, Dept. of Psychology

Prof. Jana Javakhishvili Ph.D.
Ilia State University, Tbilisi Georgia, Arts and Science Faculty

Prof. Nino Makhashvili PhD
Ilia State University, Tbilisi Georgia, Business School, Health Policy

Dr. Mareike Augsburger
University of Zurich, Dept. of Psychology