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ETPB primary image Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch

Elizabeth Ballard, Ph.D.

Photo of Elizabeth Ballard, PhD
Staff Scientist
Elizabeth Ballard, Ph.D., Associate Scientist, Director of Psychology and Behavior Research and the Director of Predoctoral Training in the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch (ETPB) at the National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Ballard is a licensed clinical psychologist. She received her Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America and has extensive clinical experience working with suicidal patients. She completed her predoctoral internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System and a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Ballard leads suicide research within the branch and is the Lead Associate Investigator on the Neurobiology of Suicide Protocol.

Research Interests

Interventions for suicide risk continue to lag behind those for other psychiatric disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, leaving many at-risk individuals undertreated. The ultimate goal of Dr. Ballard’s career is to identify the most effective rapid interventions for individuals with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, particularly those that can be incorporated into existing healthcare systems. Her current work focuses on identifying potential targets for suicide-focused interventions. Because there is a paucity of clinical trials for suicidal thoughts and behavior, she also spearheads research into design considerations for suicide-focused clinical trials. Lastly, she searches for laboratory paradigms that can be used as surrogate markers of suicide risk to evaluate candidate interventions for suicidal individuals.

Selected Publications

Toward objective characterizations of suicide risk: A review of laboratory-based cognitive and behavioral tasks . Lamontagne SJ, Zabala PK, Zarate CA, Ballard ED. (2023) Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. PMID: 37595649.

The dynamic relationship between alpha and beta power and next-day suicidal ideation in individuals with treatment-resistant depression . Ballard ED, Greenstein D, Duncan WD, Hejazi N, Gerner J, Zarate CA Jr. (2022) Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science. PMID: 35492205.

The role of dissociation in ketamine’s antidepressant effects . Ballard ED, Zarate CA., Jr. (2020). Nature Communications. PMID: 33353946.

Familial aggregation and co-aggregation of suicide attempts and comorbid disorders in the NIMH and Lausanne PsyCoLaus family studies of mood spectrum disorders.  (2019). Ballard ED, Cui L, Vandeleur C, Castelao E, Zarate CA, Preisig M, Merikangas K. JAMA Psychiatry. PMID: 30916728.

The effect of a single dose of intravenous ketamine on suicidal ideation: a systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis.  (2018). Wilkinson ST, Ballard ED, Bloch MH, Mathew SJ, Murrough MW, Feder A, Sos P, Wang G, Zarate ZA, Sanacora G. American Journal of Psychiatry. PMID: 28969441.