Rachel Yehuda, PhD
- PROFESSOR | Psychiatry
- PROFESSOR | Neuroscience
Research Topics:Behavior, Brain, Brain Imaging, Epigenetics, Gene Expressions, Gene Regulation, Hormones, Lymphocytes, MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Memory, Molecular Biology, Molecular Epidemiology, Neurobiology, Positron Emission Tomography, Translation
Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, is the Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine which includes the PTSD clinical research program and the Neurochemistry and Neuroendocrinology laboratory at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Yehuda is a recognized leader in the field of traumatic stress studies. She has authored more than 250 published papers, chapters, and books in the field of traumatic stress and the neurobiology of PTSD. Her current interests include the study of risk and resilience factors, psychological and biological predictors of treatment response in PTSD, genetic and epigenetic studies of PTSD and the intergenerational transmission of trauma and PTSD. She has an active federally-funded clinical and research program that welcomes local and international students and clinicians.
Dr. Yehuda's research on cortisol and brain function has revolutionized the understanding and treatment of PTSD worldwide and has been awarded the renowned Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (Munich, Germany) 2004 Guest Professorship. The appointment signifies a special recognition of the outstanding research she has been performing in the field of neuroscience in the context of studies on causality of psychiatric disorders over the years.
Dr. Yehuda received her PhD in Psychology and Neurochemistry and her MS in Biological Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed her postdoctoral training in Biological Psychiatry in the Psychiatry Department at Yale Medical School.
Multi-Disciplinary Training AreaNeuroscience [NEU]
Many of our programs are funded by national agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health, Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our programs are designed to gain a better scientific understanding of the biology of stress reactions, and how to treat them better. Through this funded research we have been able to gain a better understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress responses.
When confronted with extreme stress, the body initiates many chemical reactions to facilitate a quick escape from stress. The amygdala is the brain region that alerts the body to danger and activates hormonal systems. Activation of the hormones noradrenaline and adrenaline results in accelerated breathing, pulse, and heart rate, and increased release of energy to muscles and other organs, which literally helps people run faster from stress or mobilize a response that requires coping with the stressor head-on. Once the immediate danger has passed, other hormones, particularly the hormone cortisol, help terminate stress-activated reactions. Usually, the more stress there is, the more cortisol is needed to contain the stress response. Our work has demonstrated that trauma survivors with PTSD have higher levels of noradrenaline1,2 and lower levels of the hormone cortisol.3,4,5
Hormonal Studies of Trauma Survivors
Studies of Memory
Yehuda R, Bierer LM. Transgenerational transmission of cortisol and PTSD risk. Prog Brain Res 2008; 167: 121-135.
Yehuda R, LeDoux J. Response variation following trauma: a translational neuroscience approach to understanding PTSD. Neuron 2007 Oct 4; 56(1): 19-32.
Yehuda R, Teicher MH, Seckl JR, Grossman RA, Morris A, Bierer LM. Parental PTSD as a vulnerability factor for low cortisol trait in offspring of holocaust survivors. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2007 Sep; 64(9): 1040-1048.
Yehuda R, Flory JD. Differentiating biological correlates of risk, PTSD, and resilience following trauma exposure. J Trauma Stress 2007; 20(4): 435-447.
Yehuda R, Buchsbaum M, Golier JA, Harvey PH. Hippocampal volume in aging combat veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. J Trauma Stress 2007; 20(4): 435-447.
Yehuda R, Tischler L, Golier JA, Grossman R, Brand SR, Kaufman S, Harvey PD. Longitudinal assessment of cognitive performance in Holocaust Survivors with and without PTSD. Biological Psychiatry 2006; 60(7): 714-721.
Yehuda R, Golier J, Kaufman S. Circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol in Holocaust Survivors with and without PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry 2005; 162: 998-1000.
Yehuda R, Golier JA, Yang RK, Tishler L. Enhanced sensitivity to glucocorticoids in peripheral mononuclear leukocytes in posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry 2004; 55: 291-295.
Yehuda R, Yang RK, Guo SL, Makotkine Y. Relationship between dexamethasone-inhibited lysozyme activity in lymphocytes and the cortisol and glucocorticoid receptor response to dexamethasone. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2003; 37: 471-477.
Yehuda R. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 346: 109-114.