Department of Psychiatry

STRONG STAR


South Texas Research

Organizational Network Guiding

Studies on Trauma and Resilience

STRONG STAR BADGE
 

 

BACKGROUND:The American public and the military community have made enormous commitments and sacrifices in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Recent studies have found that one in six returning OIF/OEF veterans has symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is caused by exposure to traumatic stress, and one of the most common examples from OIF/OEF is exposure to grotesquely injured and mutilated people and human remains as a result of roadside bomb explosions. U.S. Service Members and others see things that no humans should have to see, and as a result, even some of the healthiest individuals can have traumatic memories that last a lifetime. It is currently estimated that 100,000 to 300,000 OIF/OEF veterans are at significant risk for developing chronic PTSD. Research with civilians with non-combat-related PTSD (e.g., rape or motor vehicle accidents) has shown that most can be treated successfully with a type of counseling called "exposure therapy" and their symptom reductions are large and fairly permanent. However, counseling with Vietnam veterans indicates that treating combat-related PTSD can be difficult when it is treated after discharge from active duty and after a significant amount of time has passed between when the trauma occurred and the counseling is started. There are currently about half a million Vietnam War veterans with chronic PTSD, and the Government spends over 4 billion dollars per year in disability payments for them. No study has ever evaluated the treatment of combat-related PTSD in active-duty military personnel. Studies are desperately needed to prevent a new generation of veterans with chronic PTSD.

Both of the 2007 Reports from the DoD Task Force on Mental Health and the Institute of Medicine have documented the urgent need for basic and clinical research on combated-related PTSD among OIF/OEF veterans. In an effort to address this problem, Congress allocated funding to create a PTSD Research Consortium administered through U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (PH/TBI) Research Program. Only one PTSD Research Consortium was funded, the STRONG STAR Research Consortium, centered in San Antonio, Texas, led by Dr. Alan Peterson. This consortium of staff and collaborators is highly qualified and prepared to conduct research that will accelerate a solution to PTSD, helping to avoid the staggering financial, emotional, and societal costs associated with the disorder.

OBJECTIVE: To develop and evaluate the most effective early-interventions possible for the detection, prevention, and treatment of combat-related PTSD in active-duty and recently discharged OIF/OEF veterans. We have organized a team of military, civilian, and VA institutions and investigators to create and implement a centralized, coordinated, health services research program to identify and solve many of the problems related to causes, diagnoses, treatment, and rehabilitation of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.

RESEARCH STRATEGY: Our research includes treatment-outcome studies, research cores, animal studies, and exploratory studies. The treatment studies will evaluate early interventions with prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy (two treatment programs that were found to have sufficient empirical evidence for their efficacy with PTSD by the recent report of the Institute of Medicine) in various clinical populations, settings, and comorbid conditions. In addition, the assessment, neuroimaging, genomics and basic science, and animal cores will facilitate this work. Exploratory studies will evaluate the use of exposure therapies for the treatment of military patients while deployed, changes in comorbid insomnia and pain in patients treated for PTSD, and risk for the development of fibromyalgia in patients with PTSD and their family members.

CENTER STRUCTURE: The Consortium is centered in South-Central Texas and is structured around research projects and cores. Texas contains the largest concentration of OIF/OEF veterans, the DoD’s largest military medical complex, state-of-the-art trauma research facilities, and established military, VA, and civilian institutional collaborations. Whereas other regions are well-resourced in researchers, proportions of OIF/OEF veterans are minimal; STRONG STAR brings the best of PTSD researchers from other regions to the highest concentration of OIF/OEF warriors and veterans in the nation. The Consortium Director and Coordinator have extensive experience in conducting research in military settings. Consortium Advisory Boards and the Executive Steering Committees will keep the research projects and cores on target. An Investigator Committee, Clinical Trials Committee, and an Education, Training, and Dissemination Committee will oversee key processes to ensure the success of the Consortium. STRONG STAR has the critical mass of talent required to make major scientific advances in military PTSD research.

 

Core Directors, Primary Investigators, and Affiliated Institutions

 Alan Peterson, PhD

Lt Col Alan Peterson, (Ret Air Force) PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio

Consortium Director
Administrative Core Director

Principal Investigator

Stacey Young-McCaughan, PhD

 COL Stacey Young-McCaughan, (Ret Army) PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center at
San Antonio

Consortium Coordinator
Principal Investigator

 John Roache, PhD

John Roache, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio

Deputy Consortium Director
Principal Investigator

 Peter Fox, MD

Peter Fox, MD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio

Neuroimaging Core Director

Principal Investigator

 Brett Litz, PhD

Brett Litz, PhD
National Center for PTSD
VA Boston Healthcare System

Assessment Core Director

Principal Investigator

Jim Mintz, PhD 

James Mintz, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio

Biostatistics, Data and Computing Services Core Director

Principal Investigator

 

 Douglas Williamson, PhD

Douglas E. Williamson, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio

Genomics and Basic Science Core Director

Principal Investigator

Jeffrey Cigrang, PhD

Lt Col Jeffrey Cigrang, (Air Force) PhD
Wilford Hall Medical Center

Principal Investigator

Edna Foa, PhD -

Edna Foa, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Principal Investigator

Robert Gatchel, PhD

Robert Gatchel, PhD
University of Texas at Arlington

Principal Investigator

Jay Higgs, MD

 Col Jay Higgs, (Ret Air Force) MD
San Antonio Military Medical Center

Principal Investigator

Patricia Resick, PhD

Patricia Resick, PhD
 National Center for PTSD
VA Boston Healthcare System

Principal Investigator

 Randy Strong, PhD

David Riggs, PhD
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Principal Investigator

 Randy Strong, PhD

Randy Strong, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center at
San Antonio

Principal Investigator

 

For more information on STRONG STAR and its research projects, visit www.strongstar.org

 

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