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overview I am an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research of McLean Hospital. I also serve as Director of the Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders Laboratory, and I devote approximately 70% of my time to research, 20% to teaching, and 10% to administrative activities. My primary activities involve directing an NIMH R01 study on which I am the Principal Investigator (PI), supervising the execution of an R01 subcontract on which I am the site PI, and co-managing the execution of a DOD grant on which I am a co-investigator. I am also a co-investigator on a multisite study applying the Human Connectome neuroimaging and behavioral protocols in a sample of youth with depression and anxiety. My research uses brain imaging to characterize neurobiological phenotypes of anxiety and stress-related disorders, and to relate them to behavioral phenotypes and clinical phenomenology. The field of psychiatry has reached an exciting juncture where we have the neuroscience knowledge and methods that can lead to a mechanistic understanding of mental illness -- particularly in the context of the NIMH’s commitment to the dimensional and transdiagnostic research framework known as RDoC. In this vein, one project in my laboratory is studying posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, in order to identify alterations in neurochemicals that modulate neuronal excitability. This line of investigation is based on preclinical and clinical evidence that PTSD involves abnormal excitability of brain regions mediating emotional regulation, including fear conditioning. Thus, we are also examining whether neurochemistry is associated with behavioral and phenomenological aspects of PTSD, including fear extinction deficits and hyperarousal symptoms. During the past ten years, I have been continuously funded through independent grants from the Dana Foundation, an NIMH R01, and most recently a NARSAD Independent Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. A longstanding interest and theme of my research program has been the identification of neurobehavioral markers of risk versus disease processes in psychiatric disorders. I have pursued this interest in the context of many different research designs, including epidemiological studies of early risk factors, family studies of biological relatives of clinically affected individuals, investigations of patients in the earliest stages of their illness, and most recently studies of trauma-exposed individuals with and without PTSD.
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  • Neurochemistry
Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.