Rachel Yehuda, PhD
- PROFESSOR | Psychiatry
- PROFESSOR | Neuroscience
Research Topics:Behavioral Health, Brain, Brain Imaging, Epidemiology, Epigenetics, Gene Expressions, Gene Regulation, Hormones, Lymphocytes, MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Memory, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Positron Emission Tomography, Stress, Translation, Trauma
Rachel Yehuda, PhD, is an Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma. She is also Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Yehuda is a recognized leader in the field of traumatic stress studies having authored more than 500 academic papers, chapters, and books in the field of PTSD and intergenerational trauma. Dr. Yehuda's research on cortisol and epigenetic mechanisms has revolutionized our understanding of the neurobiology and treatment of PTSD. In 2019, Dr. Yehuda was elected to the National Academy of Medicine for her seminal contributions to understanding the psychological and biological impact of traumatic stress. Last year, Dr. Yehuda established and now directs the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research, and has been named one of the most influential women in the psychedelic field.
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