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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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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. 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 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 (e.g., children, adolescents, and adults).

Areas of Emphasis

  • Research on 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 in at-risk or symptomatic individuals
  • Exploring approaches for differentiating trauma survivors who will recover naturally from those who will develop enduring symptoms and posttraumatic psychopathology
  • Examining the mechanisms through which conditions identified by a particular biomarker may lead to adverse outcomes
  • Identifying and validating novel biological, behavioral, cognitive, and other targets for treatment and preventive intervention development
  • Examining novel treatments, including pharmacological, behavioral, and device-based 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 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Research to understand shared and unique mechanisms responsible for co-occurring and comorbid physical and mental disorders
  • Investigating the neurobiological impact of various interventions known to be effective treatments
  • Risk factor, services, and intervention research in the context of disasters and mass casualty events to a) move beyond group-based risk prediction such that assessment would be tied to a continuum of intervention intensity and b) establish transportable disaster mental health response models that 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

Program Chief

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