About the Emerge Research Program for Stress, Trauma, Depression, and Suicidality
Our work primarily focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying chronic stress, trauma, depression, and suicidality. We place particular emphasis on the glutamatergic system including neuroenergetics (the study of energy demands in brain function) and the behavioral and neural effects of glutamate-based experimental psychopharmacologic agents (e.g., ketamine). We are also interested in glial cells because of their critical role in glutamate neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity, and neuroenergetics.
The pathophysiologic effects of trauma and chronic stress on the tripartite glutamatergic synapse are believed to underlie various biological abnormalities observed across many neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the development of truly novel drugs for stress-based psychiatric disorders and related symptoms (e.g., PTSD, depression, suicidality), directly targeting the negative effects of chronic stress, have been hampered by the limited understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying these distress pathologies in humans, and by the lack of reliable biological assays of treatment target validation.
We focus on establishing biomarkers of target engagement and target validation of distress pathology. We are pursuing this line of research through cross-sectional investigations as well as longitudinal pharmacological challenges, in combination with state-of-the-art multimodal neuroimaging approaches. It is our hope that our work can advance the field’s understanding of neural mechanisms underlying stress-related psychopathology and through this inform improved prevention, diagnostics, risk identification, and treatment including novel drug development.
Chadi G. Abdallah, M.D. is an expert in translational clinical neuroscience, multimodal magnetic resonance neuroimaging, and the use of glutamatergic drugs in trauma- and stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Lynnette A. Averill, Ph.D. is an expert in translational clinical neuroscience with emphasis on pharmacoimaging trials of glutamate-based drugs evaluating behavioral and neural alterations in suicidality and cognitive function in trauma- and stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Our team members come from a wide variety of clinical and scientific backgrounds including psychiatry, psychology, human/animal/bench research, neuroscience, and the biomedical, computer, or data sciences. The combined interdisciplinary knowledge and experience provides a great deal of flexibility and perspective as we work to answer challenging and important research questions.
Post-graduates (masters/doctoral/medical) in these fields are welcome to email a CV and brief letter of introduction to Dr. Lynnette Averill (email@example.com). Please outline how you see yourself fitting into our work and describe your clinical, research and scientific writing, statistical, and technical backgrounds. If we have an opening and you are well qualified, we will contact you to arrange a brief Zoom introduction to learn more about you and discuss opportunities
Participating in Research
Our ongoing research studies will change over time. However, all participants will first enroll in a comprehensive screening protocol to determine eligibility for any other studies, and to collect an MRI brain scan. This screening will involve diagnostic clinical interviews, questionnaires about your medical and psychiatric history/symptoms, and an MRI safety screening. If you are found to be safe to participate in MRI, then we will invite you to participate in a two-hour neuroimaging session (MRI brain scan). Participation in any of our research protocols is voluntary and compensated.
If you are interested in learning more about our research, or wish to participate in a study, please contact our Lab Manager, Christopher Averill at (832) 271-6615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to Expect on Scan Day
On the day of any MRI scan, you will be asked to arrive at CAMRI in advance of your scan in order to complete an MRI Safety Questionnaire, a urine drug test, and some brief questionnaires. Individuals medically capable of becoming pregnant will be asked to complete a pregnancy test to determine scan eligibility.
You will be asked to arrive in comfortable clothing, or to bring a change of clothes to wear in the scanner. You may not wear into the scanner anything containing metal
which can include some types of yoga/workout pants or underwire bras. Please arrive without jewelry of any kind, watches, hair pins/ties/scrunchies, etc.
Please notify the research staff in advance if you wear dentures/partials, hairpieces (wigs, weaves, extensions), eyelash extensions, etc. Please also notify the research staff of any tattoos including permanent makeup or microblading. You may not be able to scan if you cannot or do not wish to remove these types of items.
More information will be discussed with you during the initial screening and on the day of the scan. You can also contact our Lab Manager, Christopher Averill, with any questions at (832) 271-6615 or email@example.com.
Chronic Stress Journal
We are delighted to introduce you to Chronic Stress, a new scientific journal published by Sage Publishing that launched in early 2017. The detrimental effects of chronic stress are increasingly evident in preclinical and clinical research. We created Chronic Stress to give a focused platform to highlight original and review articles related to all aspects of stress-related psychiatric disorders and symptomology. In addition to its focus on the behavioral and biological effects of chronic stress, we emphasize the recently proposed Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) in by providing a platform to discuss how to best define and study chronic stress pathology within the RDoC framework; raise awareness about the RDoC concept to individuals, groups, and institutions with high stakes in mental health research and support discussion regarding the utility and relevance of this framework.
If you have questions regarding potential submissions or would like to express interest in serving as a reviewer or as a member of the editorial board, please contact EditorialOffice@chronicstress.info.