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Traumatic Stress Research Program


The Traumatic Stress Research Program coordinates research on psychopathology related to trauma, including research on neurobiological, behavioral, cognitive, and other risk and protective factors for psychopathology after traumatic events and the development of interventions for posttraumatic psychopathology in adults. The program also supports research spanning and integrating basic science, clinical practice, and health care system factors regarding mass trauma and violence (e.g., war, terrorism, natural and technological disaster), including interventions and service delivery research involving children, adolescents, and adults. In addition, this program supports translational (basic, clinical, and genomic) research on the mental health consequences of traumatic stress to elucidate the nature, causes, and pathophysiology of posttraumatic psychopathology; the development and testing of interventions to assist victims and survivors at risk for and experiencing posttraumatic psychopathology; and models for delivering care effectively and efficiently across settings, contexts, and populations.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Conducting research on fear conditioning with at risk, symptomatic, or clinical samples demonstrating how the brain adapts to and extinguishes fear and how the dynamic functions of memory acquisition, consolidation, and extinction are influenced by neurodevelopment, aging, and other factors.
  • Exploring approaches for differentiating trauma survivors who will recover naturally from those who will develop enduring symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Examining the mechanism(s) through which conditions identified by a particular biomarker may lead to adverse effects.
  • Examining novel treatments, including pharmacological and behavioral interventions, focused on biological, behavioral, and genetic targets implicated in the pathophysiology and course of disorder; treatments focused on aspects of disorder inadequately addressed by current therapies; and strategies to prevent chronic PTSD.
  • Studying peripheral signals (e.g., inflammation) and health comorbidity with PTSD.
  • Investigating the neurobiological impact of various interventions known to be effective treatments.
  • Establishing a transportable disaster mental health response model that would draw upon a continuum of intervention approaches sensitive to the nature of the disaster, affected population(s), availability of resources, and the status of health and mental health infrastructure. Risk factor, services, and intervention research in the context of disasters and mass casualty events should move beyond group-based risk prediction such that assessment would be tied to a continuum of intervention intensity.

See also the Dimensional Measurement and Intervention Program.


Farris K. Tuma, Sc.D.
Program Chief
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7111, MSC 9632