Robert H. Pietrzak PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Research Interests

Epidemiology of trauma-related disorders; Resilience; Dimensional models of psychopathology; Geriatric mental health; Stress and cognitive function; Translational psychiatric epidemiology

Current Projects

"Risk and Resilience Factors in Iraq Combat Veterans" - This study aims to improve understanding of the needs, symptoms, and strengths of Connecticut OIF/OEF Veterans.

"Mental Health, Resilience, and Soldier's Perceptions about Psychotherapy, Medication, and Barriers to Care in the U.S. Military" - This study aims to determine characteristics that differentiate symptomatic soldiers who seek mental health treatment and symptomatic soldiers who do not seek professional mental health treatment.

"National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study" - The purpose of this NCPTSD-funded study is to characterize genetic, environmental, and gene x environmental determinants of longitudinal trajectories of posttraumatic stress disorder and related mental health outcomes in a nationally representative sample of U.S. veterans.

"Trajectories of Psychological Risk and Resilience in World Trade Center Responders" - This CDC/NIOSH-funded study aims to characterize the nature and correlates of trajectories of posttraumatic stress symptoms of a large cohort of World Trade Center responders.

"Biomarkers of Psychological Risk and Resilience in World Trade Center Responders" - This CDC/NIOSH-funded study aims to examine genetic, epigenetic, and neuroendocrine factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder in World Trade Center responders.


Research Summary

Dr. Pietrzak is Director of the Translational Psychiatric Epidemiology Laboratory of the Clinical Neurosciences Division of the National Center for PTSD. His research focuses on the epidemiology of trauma-related disorders across the lifespan. His most recent work has examined a broad range of topics related to civilian and military trauma, including health and psychosocial correlates of partial and full PTSD; dimensional structure and neurobiological correlates of trauma-related psychopathology; protective effects of psychological resilience and social support; and posttraumatic growth. He also maintains an active interest in geriatric mental health, the role of stress in neurodegenerative disease, and cognitive assessment methodology.


Selected Publications

  • Pietrzak, R. H., Gallezot, J. D., Ding, Y. S., Henry, S., Potenza, M. N., Southwick, S. M., Krystal, J .H., Carson, R. E., & Neumeister, A. (2013). Association of posttraumatic stress disorder with reduced in vivo norepinephrine transporter density in the locus coeruleus. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 1199-1205.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Southwick S. M., Krystal, J. H., & Neumeister, A. (2013). Linking in vivo brain serotonin type 1B receptor density to phenotypic heterogeneity of posttraumatic stress symptomatology. Molecular Psychiatry, 18, 399-401.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Scott, J. C., Neumeister, A., Lim, Y. Y., Ames, D., Ellis, K. A., Harrington, K., Lautenschlager, N .T., Szoeke, C., Martins, R. N., Masters, C. L., Villemagne, V. L., Rowe, C. C., & Maruff, P. for the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) Group. (in press). Anxiety symptoms, cerebral amyloid burden and memory decline in healthy older adults without dementia: 3-year prospective cohort study. British Journal of Psychiatry
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Tsai, J., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Whealin, J. M., & Southwick, S. M. (2012). Support for a novel five-factor model posttraumatic stress symptoms in three independent samples of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans: A confirmatory factor analytic study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 46, 317-322.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Goldstein, R. B., Southwick, S. M., & Grant, B. F. (2012). Psychiatric comorbidity of full and partial posttraumatic stress disorder among older adults in the United States: Results from Wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 20, 380-390.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Goldstein, R. B., Southwick, S. M., & Grant, B. F. (2011). Medical comorbidity of full and partial posttraumatic stress disorder in U.S. adults: Results from Wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 697-707.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., & Southwick, S. M. (2009). The importance of four-factor emotional numbing and dysphoria models in posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 726-727.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Johnson, D. C., Goldstein, M. B., Malley, J. C., & Southwick, S. M. (2009). Psychological resilience and postdeployment social support protect against traumatic stress and depressive symptoms in soldiers returning from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Depression and Anxiety, 26, 745-751.
  • Pietrzak, R. H., Goldstein, M. B., Malley, J. C., Rivers, A. J., Johnson, D. C., Morgan, C. A., & Southwick, S. M. (2010). Posttraumatic growth in Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Journal of Affective Disorders, 126, 230-235.

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