PTSD: National Center for PTSD
The National Center for PTSD helps to improve the care of Veterans and others affected by trauma through its strong commitment to research on the prevention, causes, assessment and treatment of traumatic stress disorders. The Center continues to align its portfolio with the Operational Priorities identified in 2013, and updated in 2017, to optimally serve the field and carry out the Center's mission. These priorities include (1) Biomarkers, (2) PTSD and suicide, (3) Treatment efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement, (4) Care delivery, models of care, and system factors, and (5) Implementation.
During fiscal year 2020, National Center investigators led 146 funded studies—ranging from investigations at a single location to projects across multiple sites—including studies undertaken in collaboration with partner organizations in the government, academic institutions, and agencies outside the U.S. Investigators published 249 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, and prepared an additional 150 in-press and advance online publications. Learn more about the yearly research achievements of the National Center in our Annual Reports.
The National Center houses 6 divisions, each with its own area of specialization. In fiscal year 2022, the National Center closed its Pacific Islands Division (PID) in Honolulu, HI, integrating PID's cross-cultural mission and focus on racial and ethnic disparities in PTSD care, telehealth and virtual care, and cultural factors in PTSD treatment, into each of the remaining 6 divisions. Besides its own staff, the National Center has built strong collaborative relationships with institutions and agencies from VA, other branches of government, the health care community, and academia, giving researchers a vast array of partners for research activities. Most importantly, these activities are enriched by constant contact with clinicians who are directly involved in patient care, giving the research activities a uniquely real-world perspective.
- Executive Division Research
The Executive Division in White River Junction, VT, provides leadership, directs program planning, and promotes collaboration to facilitate optimal functioning of the other Divisions both individually and collectively. The Executive Division specializes in the development and evaluation of innovative and authoritative educational resources, in programs that disseminate and implement best management and clinical practices, and in the use of technologies to reach a broad range of audiences. This Division also oversees the administration of VA's National PTSD Brain Bank. The Executive Division does not have a specific research mission; investigators are involved in independent and collaborative research in several domains such as treatment outcome research, shared decision-making and biological research.
- Behavioral Science Division Research
The Behavioral Science Division in Boston, MA, conducts research on life adjustment after military deployment, methods to assess trauma and PTSD, innovative approaches to clinical intervention and treatment delivery, and the potential neurobiological and genomic basis of PTSD and its comorbidities.
- Clinical Neurosciences Division Research
The Clinical Neurosciences Division in West Haven, CT, focuses on research designed to establish novel treatments and uncover biomarkers of disease mechanisms related to traumatic stress, as well as research that investigates paradigms of risk and resilience. The Clinical Neurosciences Division utilizes an interdisciplinary approach that includes treatment interventions, neuroimaging, genetics and epidemiological studies targeted at translating discoveries into therapeutic targets for PTSD and comorbid conditions.
- Dissemination and Training Division Research
The Dissemination and Training Division in Palo Alto, CA, conducts research on patient needs and preferences, implementation science, the development of novel and adapted treatments that attend to patient preferences, and the development and testing of treatments that employ the potential benefits of technology-based delivery of services.
- Evaluation Division Research
The Evaluation Division in West Haven, CT, supports the National Center's mission through a programmatic link with VA's Northeast Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC), which has broad responsibilities within VA's Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) to evaluate their treatment programs, including those for specialized treatment of PTSD. Although NEPEC is primarily engaged in evaluation research, staff also work on independent research projects related to the treatment of PTSD.
- Women's Health Sciences Division Research
The Women's Health Sciences Division in Boston, MA, specializes in the study of women Veterans and non-Veterans, with a particular focus on understanding gender differences in trauma exposure, trauma and stress in marginalized groups, community violence and trauma, and polytrauma psychopathology.