Clinical Research Unit

The Clinical Research Unit (CRU) conducts clinical investigations that integrate clinical, neurobiological, and technological methodologies with the ultimate goal of improving the personalized diagnosis and treatment of Veterans with trauma-related conditions. CRU scientists have expertise in:

  • Psychotherapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and complementary and alternative interventions
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Structural and functional neuroimaging techniques
  • Comorbidities related to trauma (e.g., substance use, pain, sleep disturbance, and obesity) and postconcussive symptomatology (e.g., headaches, imbalance, tinnitus, cognitive difficulties)
  • Functional outcomes related to trauma (e.g., work/school performance, social functioning, and community integration)

The research goals of the CRU are:

  • To develop and evaluate interventions for trauma-related conditions and to provide evidence to support systematic and effective implementation in the VA healthcare system
  • To elucidate cognitive, brain, and behavioral sequelae of trauma by
    • Employing innovative methodologies, including twin research designs, to conduct phenotyping studies of risk factors and correlates of trauma-related conditions and symptoms in support of understanding of the nature and course of trauma-related disorders
    • Examining the genetic, epigenetic, cognitive, behavioral, and environmental mechanisms underlying trauma-related conditions, comorbidities, and associated functional outcomes
    • Working collaboratively to elucidate corresponding neurobiological processes
  • To foster novel discoveries about the mechanisms and markers of treatment response
    • To work collaboratively to understand and quantify the neurobiological and psychophysiological components of these processes
  • Barton W. Palmer, Ph.D.

    Barton W. Palmer, Ph.D.

    Dr. Palmer is pursuing investigations of accelerated aging in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Dawn M. Schiehser, Ph.D.

    Dawn M. Schiehser, Ph.D.

    Dr. Schiehser co-directs a traumatic brain injury (TBI) neuropsychological and neuroimaging lab at VASDHS where she investigates the neurofunctional correlates of post-concussive symptoms (e.g., fatigue, cognitive impairment) in Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). She collaborates with other CESAMH investigators in researching neuroimaging and sleep in Veterans with TBI as well as treatments for Veterans with post-traumatic headache.