Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a major public health challenge made increasingly more significant as Service Members return from recent conflicts in the Middle East. While effective treatments are available, a significant number of patients remain symptomatic or are unable to utilize these treatments to their full potential. Thus, additional development and treatment optimization is essential. Isolating efficacious components of treatment and empirically testing them requires multiple studies and large numbers of subjects, and thus, is prohibitively expensive. Research on mechanisms of treatment response can inform improvements in treatment development and practice. Integrating affective neuroscience methods, such as identifying candidate peripheral biomarkers, into treatment trials can make each study more informative and effective.
Dr. Rauch discusses methodology of how to integrate biomarkers measures into clinical trials and critical elements of design required to inform interpretation of results. She also presents results across several of her translational treatment outcomes trials examining potential biomarkers of PTSD and PTSD treatment mechanisms.
Sheila A.M. Rauch, Ph.D., ABPP, is Associate Professor in Psychiatry at in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine. She serves as Clinical Director of the Emory University Veterans Program and Director of Mental Health Research and Program Evaluation at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Dr. Rauch has been conducting research and providing PTSD and Anxiety Disorders treatment for over 20 years. Her research focuses on examination of mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of PTSD and improving access to effective interventions. She is currently Principal Investigator of two PTSD treatment outcome and mechanisms trials including a DOD funded, multi-site PTSD treatment trial comparing prolonged exposure and sertraline and a VA/DOD collaboratively funded trial examining biomarkers in veterans and active duty military service members. She has been training providers in PTSD treatment since 2000 and has served as a VHA Prolonged Exposure Therapy Roll Out Trainer since the start of the program. She has published scholarly articles and book chapters in the areas of anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) focusing on neurobiology and factors involved in the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders, psychosocial factors in medical settings, and the relation between physical health and anxiety. Dr. Rauch has been involved in the modification and adaptation of proven psychotherapeutic interventions for anxiety disorders for various populations and settings, including primary care. Her role in VHA continues to focus on growing VA Program Evaluation and Research and establishing new and effective treatment programs for our Veterans. She holds a diplomate in Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology. She is a fellow of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT) and a member of the Board of Directors and Scientific Council of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In 2017, she was awarded the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Emory University School of Medicine. She served on the VA/DOD PTSD Clinical Practice Guideline Committee in 2010 and 2015.