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Led by the Little Orange Fish, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to furthering community mental health, The Inner Defense Initiative is a collaborative effort with iXpressGenes Inc.Paragon Research Corporation, University of Alabama Huntsville and passionate individual contributors from our community. 


Our efforts build on early-stage research indicating a direct connection between an individual’s immune system and their resilience to psychological trauma.  Our small impassioned research group here in Huntsville, Alabama has found a connection between specific blood-based biomarkers and the psychological symptoms in those who suffer from PTSD.  This is a novel approach to understanding PTSD, and with so many suffering from the effects of trauma, the impact of developing this research could be life-changing for all who suffer from the effects of trauma. 

Meet The Team


Joseph Ng, Ph.D.

Professor, Univ. of Alabama Huntsville 

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“I’m a survivor of a campus shooting - in honor of those who did not survive and those who did, but suffer terribly, I want to find a path to resiliency. The immune system is clearly on that path.”


Peggy Sammon

Director, iXpressGenes, Inc.

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"In honor of the service of my father, grandfather, and son-in-law, I want to support solutions for the pain of post traumatic stress. Our medical research team at iXpressGenes is personally committed."


Daniel Adamek, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Little Orange Fish


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"Traumatic stress and its impacts need to be understood personally and publicly because the mind sits at the critical intersection between an individual and a healthy community."


John Schmitt, MS

Founder, Schmitt Consulting Group


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"Running from my own demons and always thinking of those who never came home whole, or we have lost since, have given me more than enough reasons to chase any opportunity to prevent the next tragic loss and heal.  It's clear to me it's time to chase the biology of trauma, not just the psychology."

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Eric Seemann, Ph.D.

Dir. of Research at Alabama Pain Center


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"Hippocrates believed that healing requires the understanding of the body/psyche (mind) interaction, and the evidence of healing is in the “essence” (spirit). We have precise sciences for the study of body and mind. We owe it to those of us who risk everything for the good of others to continue the work.  We have the honor of serving those who serve others." 

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Matt Blau, MBA

Aerospace Engineer


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“An initial step to combatting the devastating psychologic effects of combat is to identify the immune response to trauma.  Let’s put DNA sequencing to work to help ease the tremendous effort required to overcome PTSD for our veterans, first responders and anyone who has been affected by a traumatic event. The immune system may hold some clues, so let’s move out!”


Steve Bane, MBA, PMP

Program Manager


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"Why are some people more resilient than others when exposed to trauma? Further research into the biopsychology of trauma could unlock unlimited possibilities for early intervention and treatment."


Jacquie Manoukian

Grant Writer

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"Living with PTS can be debilitating. The research by this innovative team linking one’s genetic makeup to how the body responds to trauma will help shape PTS prevention and treatment plans in the future. With that comes hope, and with hope comes healing. I’m here for both."


Karrie Benjamin

Systems Support

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"Experiencing family members' struggles with the trial and error of mental illness treatments motivates me to support the work of the Inner Defense Initiative for so many suffering, often in silence."

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Emily Mason

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"There is so much power in understanding health from a genomic perspective, and those who suffer from trauma deserve to understand as much as they can so their quality of life can be improved. I’m excited to be involved in pushing this research forward"

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Josh Reinoehl

Program Manager

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"Software engineering is my passion, and I’m excited to put it to work to unlock new secrets of the genome for such a great cause. We can use the power of AI and machine learning to make much needed predictions for those who are suffering."

Software Engineer

Partner Companies and Organizations
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iXpressGenes, Inc. (iXG) is located on the campus of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, AL. iXG's scientists have deep expertise in gene expression and immune response analysis. iXG has been awarded a DTRA Phase II SBIR for antibiotic research from extremophilic materials. 


Paragon Research Corporation (PRC) brings vast experience with the application of data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence for identifying and solving complex problems: biomedical, energy usage minimization, hyper-dimensional dynamic prognostics, complex machine failure prediction, and optimal decision making.

One of the nation's premier research universities, UAH offers hands-on curriculum that prepares our graduates to become tomorrow's leaders.

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