Victoria Risbrough, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry
Associate Director of Neuroscience Research,
VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH);
Professor of Psychiatry
UC San Diego
I have had 20 years of experience in translational pharmacology and genetic studies of neuropsychiatric disorders with particular emphasis on stress. I lead both a preclinical and clinical laboratory, with the preclinical laboratory focusing on mechanisms of stress and fear and the clinical laboratory focusing on biomarker and psychophysiology studies examining the mechanisms of risk and resilience for trauma-related disorders and pharmacological approaches to augmenting learned fear processes. I am Associate Director of Neuroscience for the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in San Diego in the VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) as well as Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD. I am also the PI of the CESAMH Biorepository Core. I have directed as PI both preclinical and clinical projects for anxiety-related research funded by NIH, DOD and Veterans Affairs (VA). I have extensive experience in psychophysiological and behavioral pharmacology in both healthy controls and anxiety disorder patients. I have mentored graduate and post-doctoral and medical trainees (NIH NRSA fellows, NARSAD and NIH minority supplement awardees, VA fellowship awardees, Canadian Research Institute fellows, and T32 fellows). My trainees have gone on to academic positions in both the US and Europe as well as to pharmaceutical companies to conduct drug discovery research. As a translational scientist working across species I can support the P50 goals in understanding quantitative traits that relate to increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders, in particularly anxiety disorders.
Relevant to the current proposal, I have worked with Dr. Baker (Multi-PI), for over 10 years. We have co-authored 20 publications and completed 5 funded projects together including the Marine Resiliency Project, which will be leveraged for the CC renewal application (see contributions to science for details of the Marine Resiliency Study Project). I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with the UCI CC team headed by Dr. Baram, a long-time “virtual mentor” for me as a colleague in preclinical research of developmental factors contributing to mental disorders. Under her leadership, we have worked extensively with the CC team to develop the preliminary data described in our project that strongly supports the CC hypothesis that anhedonia is a prospective risk factor for development of trauma-related symptoms, supporting the potential success of our studies in Aim 2. In collaboration with the CC team have published a review discussing the current evidence for a link between anhedonia and trauma-related disorders, and the potential contribution of FRAG to PTSD risk*. Our preliminary data also indicate that anhedonia is linked to increased FRAG in a veteran/active duty population, supporting our hypothesis in Aim 1. Project 4 will draw on the extensive infrastructure and research experience of the MRS team to test the CC hypotheses in an at-risk population. As corresponding PI I will work with Dr. Baram and her team to communicate with NIMH, and with Dr. Baker to ensure timely completion of study goals and milestones, and dissemination of data.