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Authority on stress and addiction is named Foundations’ Fund Professor of Psychiatry

Medicine@Yale, 2011 - July August


Rajita Sinha, Ph.D., has been appointed as Foundations’ Fund Professor of Psychiatry. Sinha is director of the Yale Stress Center, established in 2007 with a $23 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The interdisciplinary center brings together scientists to study the effects of stress on motivated behaviors such as excessive cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and high-calorie food consumption, with the aim of improving health outcomes related to these maladaptive behaviors.

In her own research, Sinha has shown how stress and adversity increase desire for addictive substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs, and high-fat foods, and how chronic use of these substances and/or obesity alter biological stress responses, promoting craving and compulsive seeking of these substances. Her work is leading to new treatment strategies that target changes in stress, emotion, and craving responses.

Sinha holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and earned a respecialization in clinical psychology at Yale in 1992. She has served as director of addiction services at the Connecticut Mental Health Center and is chief of the Section of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry. Her honors include an Independent Scientist Award, an Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research Scholar Award, and a Women’s Health Research Scholar Award, all from the NIH. Sinha is an elected member of the College of Problems on Drug Dependence and the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology.