The overall goal of my work is to understand neural mechanisms of psychopathology, in particular trauma and alcohol use disorders and their common comorbidities, and to utilize this understanding to improve diagnosis and treatments. My background is firmly rooted in understanding neural patterns that relate to the risk for and consequences of PTSD and alcohol use utilizing state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques. I am highly involved in an active program of multimodal imaging research investigating the neurocognitive, neurofunctional, and structural correlates of psychopathology and its empirically supported treatments. For the past two decades I have provided clinical services for or conducted research with individuals with drug use disorders and or posttraumatic stress symptoms. During this time, I developed a deep commitment to this populations’ mental health and an invaluable perspective on their phenotypic presentation and clinical needs. My strong background in MRI research of alcohol use disorders, comorbid substance use and traumatic stress, proficiency in the theory and application of first line treatments these disorders, expertise in conducting interdisciplinary longitudinal neuroimaging work within the context of randomized controlled trials, and my role in the VASDHS Center for Excellence in Stress and Mental Health, positions me to make a lasting contribution to the field that translates neurobiological mechanisms into improved diagnosis and treatment.
I am a member of the VA San Diego Institutional Review Board, and the VASDHS Center for Excellence in Stress and Mental Health (Neuroscience Unit) where I am Co-Chair of the Platform Strategies Workgroup - whose goal is to foster collaborations between researchers interested in integrating clinical trial and biological methodologies to understand treatment predictors and mechanisms in Veterans. I regularly serve as an ad-hoc member of the VA Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences-P (MHBP) review group.
I am fully committed to training the next leaders in our field, as my service and teaching activities demonstrate. I am Co-Director of the NIAAA T32 “Alcohol Research in the Science/Practitioner Model,” and am also faculty on the VA Interprofessional and the VA San Diego Center for Stress and Mental Illness Fellowships, and am a member of the UCSD Psychiatry and Education Training Council, as well as the UCSD Graduate Programs Evaluation Committee.