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Research at Weill Cornell Medicine

View looking up from the bottom of NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell building

The Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS) aims to address the enormous toll that untreated mental illness has on military families. Looking closely at the effect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other anxiety disorders have on individuals, families, and society through innovative clinical research, we can advance the field while helping to meet the mental health needs of our patients and their families.

For the past decade, our research concerning deployment-related conditions such as combat-related PTSD has sought to develop innovative treatments and to improve the efficacy of available PTSD treatments. We are currently conducting four funded studies related to military life, as follows:

  • Cognitive Enhancer Study: a multisite Department of Defense–funded study to determine if the presence of a genetic biomarker influences patient response to treatment and whether using a cognitive enhancer (D-Cycloserine) can hasten and strengthen the response to virtual reality based and imaginal exposure treatment of combat-related PTSD.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of two evidence-based treatments for combat-related PTSD augmented with the cognitive enhancer d-cycloserine. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either traditional imaginal exposure therapy or virtual reality enhanced exposure therapy.

Under the direction of Dr. JoAnn Difede, the trial is being conducted at Weill Cornell, VA Long Beach Healthcare System and National Intrepid Center of Excellence-Walter Reed. Any service member deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF, OIF) — regardless of duty or discharge status may be assessed for enrollment at Weill Cornell. Active duty service members may be evaluated for admission at the National Intrepid Center; OEF, OIF veterans can be evaluated at VA Long Beach.

  • Vasopressin Receptor Medication Study: currently enrolling patients in a Phase II Clinical Trial, funded by the DoD,  which will test a novel pharmacotherapy, a first-in-class vasopressin receptor antagonist, for PTSD. The purpose of this study is to test the effect of a new medication targeted directly at symptoms of PTSD. Vasopressin (AVP), a peptide neurotransmitter widely recognized for its major influence on social behaviors and emotional regulation, is an important chemical signal linked to the neurobiology of PTSD. The results are expected to provide evidence of clinical improvement in the SRX246 vs. placebo patients based on a change in CAPS score, clinical impression, and other indices. Adults between the ages of 18 and 65 with symptoms of PTSD that have been present for at least one month may be eligible to participate.
  • Military Sexual Trauma Study: currently enrolling  participants with trauma exposure related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) — actual or threatened sexual assault — for a 10-14 week PTSD intervention study involving either exposure therapy (Prolonged Imaginal Exposure) or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). The overall goal of this study is to undertake a novel, randomized, controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of ET compared to IPT for treating PTSD in male and female MST survivors. If you are eligible for the study, study intervention is free and those eligible for compensation (non-active military personnel only) will be compensated for all intervention completed assessments. Free confidential evaluation.

For more information regarding our other studies and for opportunities to participate in research, please see our main Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies.