Michelle Minickel: The Biological Basis of Resilience, Lessons from COVID.
We will explore what “resilience” means for our immune system and our ability to
literally survive and thrive in times of chronic stress or even full-blown disaster, as well
as how to bolster our resilience in challenging times.
We have known for decades what the immunobiological effects of chronic stress are,
but only recently have we started to discover that some individuals seem to be more
resilient to those effects of stress. As background, we will review what the COVID-19
pandemic has taught us about the biologic effects of chronic stress. Then, we will define
resilience from a medical perspective, review some of the protective immunologic and
hormonal effects of resilience and talk about how to become more resilient humans.
Michelle Minikel, MD/MS is a family medicine physician at Bellin’s Clinica Hispana in
Green Bay, where she has worked for the past 5.5 years with vulnerable populations. In
March and April 2020, their small clinic had over 300 patients test positive for COVID
due to outbreaks in the meat packing plants around town. Later in the year, she had to
redeploy to the hospital to help cover the large influx of patients there. She has been
working to advance health equity within Bellin and throughout Green Bay for the past
few years and has always been interested in the health effects of chronic stress as well
as the factors that make some individuals more resilient to the chronic stressors of
poverty, racism, and violence.