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12th Annual Amygdala, Stress and PTSD Conference

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Course Developer:
Center for Deployment Psychology

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) of the Uniformed Services University (USU) in collaboration with the USU Department of Psychiatry, USU Neuroscience Program, USU Department of Family Medicine, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Department of Psychiatry, is pleased to present the 12th Annual Amygdala, Stress and PTSD Conference: The Effects of Stress and Loss



Gary H. Wynn
Robert J. Ursano
Ronald S. Duman

Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D.

Department of Psychiatry

Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Duman is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology and Director of the Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities at the Yale University School of Medicine. Studies from Dr. Duman’s laboratory have contributed to the characterization of the molecular and cellular actions of stress, depression, and antidepressants providing the basis for a neurotrophic and synaptic hypothesis of depression. This hypothesis is based on work demonstrating that chronic administration of a typical antidepressant or a single dose of a rapid acting agent like ketamine blocks or reverses the neuronal atrophy that is caused by stress and depression. Dr. Duman’s work has demonstrated that increased neurotrophic factor levels and increased synapse formation underlie the actions of rapid acting antidepressants. These findings represent major advances in our understanding of the effects of antidepressants and provide a framework for the development of novel therapeutic agents. More recent studies from Dr. Duman’s laboratory have focused on the cellular mechanisms underlying traumatic stress, including transcriptomic and proteomic studies of postmortem brain tissue from PTSD subjects, and studies of novel rapid acting agents for the treatment of PTSD. Dr. Duman has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Anna-Monika Prize, Nola Maddox Falcone Prize, Janssen Prize, NIMH MERIT Award, and a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Duman is author of over 300 original articles, reviews and chapters and has given over 250 invited lectures.  He has also served as a consultant to Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Lundbeck, Taisho, Naurex, Navitor, and Allergan.

James Reeves, MD

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in Houston, Texas, CAPT Reeves graduated from Southwestern University with a degree in Biology in 1992. He completed his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio in 1996 and his residency in psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill where he was chief resident in 2000.

CAPT Reeves began his Navy career in 2000 as a staff psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. He assisted in the relief efforts both at Washington DC and New York City during 9/11 and published 3 papers on the topic. CAPT Reeves was then selected to become the 1st Marine Division (1MARDIV) psychiatrist at Camp Pendleton where he oversaw mental health for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Al Anbar province, Iraq during 2004 and published in the Marine Corps Gazette on operational stress control. From 2005 to 2009 he served as the psychiatry residency director at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. In 2009 CAPT Reeves was selected to become the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) lead on global health in OSD-Policy where he oversaw the Department of Defense’s $99 million HIV/AIDS prevention program. CAPT Reeves was selected as the Director for Mental Health at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth where he led 320 personnel across Hampton Roads to include inpatient, outpatient and substance abuse services as well as 2 training programs and served on the Command Executive Board. CAPT Reeves is currently serving as the Director of Training and Professional Development for the Center for Global Health Engagement at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). He also serves as the Specialty Leader for Navy Psychiatry where he leads the Navy’s 145 psychiatrists and manages Navy mental health policy.

CAPT Reeves remains an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and previously served as a board examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He received the 2015 Sears Award for most outstanding Navy psychiatrist.

Sandro Galea

Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH

Dr Galea is a physician and an epidemiologist.   He is the Robert A. Knox Professor and Dean at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Prior to his appointment at Boston University, Dr Galea served as the Gelman Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at the University of Michigan and at the New York Academy of Medicine.

In his scholarship, Dr Galea is centrally interested in the social production of health of urban populations, with a focus on the causes of brain disorders, particularly common mood-anxiety disorders and substance abuse.  He has long had a particular interest in the consequences of mass trauma and conflict worldwide, including as a result of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, and the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This work has been principally funded by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several foundations. He has published over 640 scientific journal articles, 50 chapters, and 10 books and his research has been featured extensively in current periodicals and newspapers. His latest book, co-authored with Dr Katherine Keyes, is Population Health Science, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Dr Galea has a medical degree from the University of Toronto, and graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University; he has an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow.  He was named one of TIME magazine’s epidemiology innovators and has been listed by Thomson Reuters as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for the Social Sciences. He is past-president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Epidemiological Society. Dr Galea has received several lifetime achievement awards for this research, including the Rema Lapouse Award from the American Public Health Association and the Robert S Laufer Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress. He is a regular contributor to Fortune magazine and has published widely in lay press including in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, the Boston Globe, The New York Times. His research has been cited in these journals and in BBC, Slate, WBUR, and NPR, among others.

Dr Galea serves frequently on advisory groups to national and international organizations. He currently serves on the Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities and has formerly served as chair of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Community Services Board and as member of its Health Board. 

Steven E. Bruce

 Steven E. Bruce, Ph.D.

Department of Psychological Sciences

University of Missouri – St. Louis

Steven E. Bruce, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Trauma Recovery, Director of Clinical Training, and Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He then completed his internship at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC and a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, RI. Dr. Bruce is a member of several scientific organizations including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) and has served on several editorial boards.  He has authored or co-authored over 50 publications and over 150 presentations in the area of anxiety disorders. Dr. Bruce’s primary research interests and clinical specializations include the treatment of anxiety and affective disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. Specifically, Dr. Bruce is interested in conducting translational research incorporating neuroimaging and psychophysiological assessment as both predictors and outcomes of cognitive behavioral treatment response.

Regina C. Armstrong

Regina C. Armstrong, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine

Professor, USUHS, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics

Dr. Armstrong is Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM). The CNRM is a collaborative intramural research program of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). The CNRM focus is pre-clinical through clinical research to promote recovery from traumatic brain injury and to improve psychological health in combat casualties cared for at WRNMMC.

Dr. Armstrong earned a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester, where she began research training in multiple sclerosis at the Center for Brain Research.  She was a National Science Foundation Fellow for work toward her Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She did postdoctoral training at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH).

Dr. Armstrong’s primary academic appointment is as Professor of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics in the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at USU. Dr. Armstrong holds secondary appointments in the Neuroscience and the Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Programs. Dr. Armstrong received the faculty award for Outstanding Graduate Biomedical Educator from the School of Medicine in 2002. She served as Director of the USU Neuroscience Graduate Program from 2002-2008 before stepping down to begin as Director of the CNRM. Dr. Armstrong teaches in the first year medical student module on the nervous system and in several graduate student courses. Dr. Armstrong’s laboratory focuses on mechanisms of damage and repair in the brain and spinal cord. This work employs diverse research approaches, from molecular techniques to neuroimaging, to address ways to improve neuroregeneration and repair capacity in the CNS. Research efforts in her laboratory have been funded through peer-reviewed competitive awards from the NIH, the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and the Department of Defense.

Douglas Williamson, Ph.D.

Douglas E. Williamson is a Professor at Duke University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the Translational Center for Stress-Related Disorders.  Dr. Williamson’s research interests fall within the emerging field of translational epidemiology – a discipline that considers the population level characteristics of stress-related diseases and integrates mechanistic studies in the identification and characterization of risk factors associated with their onset. 

Dr. Williamson’s earlier research examined the familial aggregation of depression in children and adolescents and the role of familial risk for depression on the risk to develop depression early in the life span.  This research has led to insight into potential genetic and environmental risk factors for depression and anxiety and has extended to understanding the role of the developing brain.  This research has shown that adolescents at high familial risk for depression have a heightened amygdala response to stimuli and that subtle shifts in epigenetic state of gene (e.g. DNA methylation) further potentiate this heightened reactivity resulting in the emergence of initial symptoms of depression. 

Currently, Dr. Williamson is leading efforts for the STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary Research Consortium to identify genetic and environmental contributors to PTSD.  Toward this end, Dr. Williamson and colleagues are using population samples of active duty soldiers screened before and after deployment to identify genetic variants associated with PTSD as well as genes that are uniquely dysregulated following exposure to combat-related trauma among soldiers developing PTSD.  Dr. Williamson also currently leads efforts for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (CAP), a national effort established as part of the White House’s National Research Action Plan in 2013 to address the public health burden of PTSD. Dr. Williamson and colleagues are identifying unique genetic and epigenetic biomarker signatures of PTSD, risk to develop PTSD, and predictors of treatment response for PTSD. 

James C. West, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Dr. West is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and a Scientist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He earned his B.S.E. from the United States Naval Academy in 1989 and his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2001. He served eight years as a submarine warfare officer in the Navy and completed residency training in psychiatry at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. He has completed tours with First Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, California and National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. He deployed in 2006 to Fallujah, Iraq as Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) psychiatrist for Regimental Combat Team 5 and in 2010 to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as Combat and Operational Stress Control Officer for Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Fwd). He served on the leadership team integrating with Walter Reed Army Medical Center as Assistant Deputy Commander and Deputy Commander of Behavioral Health at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Dr. West is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and currently serves as assembly representative for the Society of Uniformed Services Psychiatrists. His professional interests include research into assessment methods in psychiatry education, and translating understanding of biological underpinnings of PTSD and trauma-related disorders into more effective treatments.


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