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Emerge Research Program

for Stress, Trauma, Depression, and Suicidality

Thank you for taking the time to learn about our research program! Our work primarily focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying chronic stress, trauma, depression, and suicidality. We place particular emphasis on the glutamatergic system including neuroenergetics (the study of energy demands in brain function) and the behavioral and neural effects of glutamate-based experimental psychopharmacologic agents (e.g., ketamine). We are also interested in glial cells because of their critical role in glutamate neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity, and neuroenergetics.

The pathophysiologic effects of trauma and chronic stress on the tripartite glutamatergic synapse are believed to underlie various biological abnormalities observed across many neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the development of truly novel drugs for stress-based psychiatric disorders and related symptoms (e.g., PTSD, depression, suicidality), directly targeting the negative effects of chronic stress, have been hampered by the limited understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying these distress pathologies in humans, and by the lack of reliable biological assays of treatment target validation. Overall, our research program is focusing on establishing biomarkers of target engagement and target validation of distress pathology. We are pursuing this line of research through cross-sectional investigations as well as longitudinal pharmacological challenges, in combination with state-of-the-art multimodal neuroimaging approaches. It is our hope that our work can advance the field’s understanding of neural mechanisms underlying stress-related psychopathology and through this inform improved prevention, diagnostics, risk identification, and treatment including novel drug development.

FEATURED STUDIES

Emerge Vet Flag

CAP Ketamine for Veterans with PTSD

Compensation: up to $800
Call Tim: 203-932-5711 X2525 for eligibility screening

Enrolling Veterans, age 18-70, with current PTSD, who have tried at least one antidepressant medication for PTSD with little-to-no reduction of symptoms. Call us for a telephone eligibility screening. Study consists of in-person medical and psychiatric screening, 2 infusions per week for 4 weeks, and weekly follow up visits for 4 weeks following the last infusion. Read more about this study.

Emerge Depressed Woman

Glial and Glutamatergic Deficits in Psychiatric Disorders

Compensation: up to $600
Call Jeremy: 203-932-5711 X4215 for eligibility screening

Enrolling participants, age 18-65, with current diagnosis of PTSD or depression. Call us for a telephone eligibility screening. This study investigates glial cell and glutamatergic functioning and consists of one screening visit and two neuroimaging scan visits. The first scan collects data regarding basic structure and function of the brain; the second scan uses novel imaging method to monitor how infused acetate is metabolized in the brain. This study involves one infusion. Read more about this study.

About Our Co-Directors

Chadi G. Abdallah, MD, is an expert in translational clinical neuroscience, multimodal magnetic resonance neuroimaging, and the use of glutamatergic drugs in trauma- and stress-related psychiatric disorders.

Lynnette A. Averill, PhD, is an expert in translational clinical neuroscience with emphasis on pharmacoimaging trials of glutamate-based drugs evaluating behavioral and neural alterations in suicidality and cognitive function in trauma- and stress-related psychiatric disorders.

Join Our Team

Students and post-graduates (both bachelor, master, and doctoral-level) in neuroscience, psychology, biomedical, computer, or data sciences may be a good match for our research program. If you are interested in joining our team and gaining valuable research experience, please send us your CV and a brief letter introducing yourself and your interests. Please outline how you see yourself fitting into our program and describe your clinical, research, statistical, and technical backgrounds. Please note, it is not expected that team members have experience in all of these domains. If it seems you may be a good fit for our team, we will arrange a brief in-person or videoconference meeting to further discuss and explore options for a possible position.

Email Dr. Lynnette A. Averill