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Interdisciplinary Research at the Center of NIMH Grant


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) awarded Dr. Phillip Zoladz, Associate Professor of Psychology in Ohio Northern University’s Getty College of Arts and Sciences, a research grant of $423,776 to conduct studies on the time-dependent effects of stress on learning and their physiological and genetic correlations.

Dr. Zoladz, principal investigator for the project, stated that less than 25% of traumatized individuals develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reason why certain individuals are more susceptible to developing the disorder is not completely understood and involves an interaction among a myriad of physiological and environmental factors. The research team of Dr. Zoladz and co-investigator, Dr. Boyd Rorabaugh, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Cell Biology, will utilize this grant opportunity to conduct studies on how stress interacts with genetic and physiological characteristics of an individual to uncover possible explanations. Special focus will be given to how stress time-dependently alters emotional learning, which could lend insight into the mechanisms responsible for traumatic memory formation, a cardinal symptom of PTSD. The team will also leverage the addition of new lab equipment to empower cutting-edge studies in their facilities. Dr. Zoladz says, "Receiving this grant speaks to the importance of the research being conducted by students in my behavioral neuroscience laboratory. I am extremely happy to obtain funds to conduct this work because it could really shed light on why some people form stronger emotional memories than others."  Dr. Rorabaugh went on to say, “There are few effective treatment options for patients suffering from disorders involving traumatic memories.  We hope that this project will further our understanding of how the physiological response to stress, as well as individual differences in specific genes, contributes to the formation of emotional memories.”

Students from Dr. Zoladz's behavioral neuroscience laboratory who will be involved in the research include:
Chelsea Cadle, Alison Dailey, Hannah Nagle, David Peters, Callie Brown, Amanda Scharf, McKenna Earley, Courtney Knippen, Miranda Fiely, Brianne Mosley, Tessa Duffy, Joey Mallernee and pharmacy student, Amanda Liebrecht. It is the hope of the research team that the findings of this study will lend insight into risk factors for traumatic memory formation and ultimately facilitate the development of more targeted treatment options for PTSD in the future.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15MH104836. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.