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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences ~ Research

The Tulane University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is a leader in clinical research that covers the developmental lifespan with investigators from multiple disciplines and a history of groundbreaking clinical research. We offer a wide range of sites, mentors, and unique training opportunities for young researchers. Training and support are provided at all levels of training including students, residents, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. We are committed to research that understands the underpinnings of complex mental issues and develops new treatments.

Michael ScheeringaMichael Scheeringa, MD
Vice Chair of Research



Research News

Groundbreaking Study on Attachment in Older Children

(8/2/18). Katherine Guyon-Harris, PhD was the lead author on the first longitudinal follow-up of attachment status from early childhood through 12 years. One-hundred twenty-four children with a history of institutional care from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project were included in the study, which showed that foster care was associated with steep reductions in reactive attachment disorder (RAD) symptoms, while longer time in institutional care was associated with elevated symptoms. Findings suggest the course of RAD is variable but influenced by early experiences.
(A prospective longitudinal study of reactive attachment disorder following early institutional care: Considering variable- and person-centered approaches. Attachment & Human Development, early online July 23, 2018)

Book Published for Parents on PTSD in Youth
(6/6/18) Michael Scheeringa, MD has authored a new book that is a guide for parents about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in youth. Published by Central Recovery Press, it's the first book on the market that covers what parents and youths need to know about PTSD from-A-to-Z while debunking the myths and demystifying the science. Dr. Scheeringa hopes it's a book that clinicians will recommend to families and professors will use in classrooms.

New Research Postdoctoral Fellow
(5/02/18) In January 2018, Rebecca Lynch, PhD joined the department as our second Research Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Lynch received her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University. Her graduate work focused on social cognitive risk factors (e.g., perceptual biases) that contribute to externalizing problems, plus measurement of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She plans to continue her work by focusing full-time on new methods to assess and treat clinically-important biases that underlie irritable behavior.

Jeffrey Rouse, MDfMRI Functional Connectivity Associated with Emotion Regulation and Meditation
(March 28, 2018). At the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting in Boston, MA, two students working with our faculty Jeffrey Rouse, MD (pictured) presented their work. On March 24, Yush Kukreja presented a poster on resting state fMRI connectivity associated with emotion regulation.  On March 25, Lauren Goodes presented her poster on resting state fMRI connectivity associated with meditation.

Devi MironNational Presentation on the Louisiana Child Welfare Trauma Project
(March 1, 2018) Devi Miron Murphy, PhD, will be presenting on March 5 at the 31st Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Mental Health in Tampa, FL.  She will be presenting findings from our Louisiana Child Welfare Trauma Project, including her work to disseminate evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder throughout the state of Louisiana.

Dr. DruryNational Telomere Meeting Draws a Tulane Faculty
(December 15, 2017) Stacy Drury, MD, PhD, faculty in the section of child & adolescent psychiatry section, was among a select group of scientists invited to a workshop to discuss the potential of telomeres as markers of exposure to pollutants or stress. The workshop, held September 6-7, was titled, “Telomeres as Sentinels for Environmental Exposures, Psychosocial Stress, and Disease Susceptibility,” and was organized jointly by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.

Tulane Faculty Chosen for Distinguished Presentation
(December 6, 2017) Charles Zeanah, MD, head of the child & adolescent psychiatry section, was given the prestigious honor of being chosen for the Presidential Interview at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The interview honored Dr. Zeanah’s long career of research achievements in infant mental health, early adverse experiences, and attachment. The meeting was held October 23-28, 2017 in Washington, DC.


Developmental Modifications Needed for PTSD Criteria for 7-12 Year-Old Children
(October 11, 2017) Amy Mikolajewski, PhD investigated how changes in the DSM-5 impact diagnosis rates in 7-18 year-olds. The DSM-5 criteria appeared to be more developmentally sensitive than DSM-IV criteria, and may lead to higher prevalence rates of PTSD for 7-12 year-old children, but not for adolescents.  In addition, using the very young children criteria for 7-12 year-old children further increases prevalence, and may capture children with less severe psychopathology (Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 27(4), 374-382. doi: 10.1089/cap.2016.0134).

Groundbreaking Study on Cardiac Activity, CBT, PTSD, and Youths
(August 25, 2017) The newest study from Dr. Michael Scheeringa’s lab was just published online: "Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Children: Preliminary Treatment and Gender Effects" in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Rebecca Lipschutz, MS (pictured), who is now at the University of Houston, was first author.  You can view the full text free online for a limited time at

Autism Clinic Scores Again! PCORI Tier II Awarded

(August 16, 2017) Lisa Settles, PhD was awarded a prestigious Pipeline to Proposal Tier II award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). This award will extend the work of the Autism FORCE project that was launched with a Tier I award last year.  The work is part of the Tulane Center for Autism and Related Disorders (TCARD), about which you can learn more here

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Moneyballed Psychiatry

(June 14, 2017) If you saw the movie Moneyball, you saw how the Oakland A's baseball team used new types of data to pick players for their team. Michael Scheeringa, MD is piloting something similar at the Tulane University Behavioral Health Clinic – Metairie.  Their Enhanced Diagnostics testing uses new types of information to predict treatment responders, opening up all kinds of interesting possibilities and hypothesis-generating ideas for research.  Check out their blog at

Merrill headshotOxytocin receptor, cortisol, telomere length, and violence exposure

Olivia Merrill (pictured), working in the labs of Dr. Stacy Drury and Dr. Kat Theall, first-authored a paper in International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience which examined the relations between exposure to violence, externalizing behavior, cortisol, telomere length, and oxytocin genotype in 5-15 year-old youths. Oxytocin genotype moderated the association between violence and both cortisol and telomere length, suggesting that pathways linked to oxytocin may contribute to individual differences in the physiologic and molecular relations with violence exposure. Sex differences were also detected.

Khunkhun 2016 12What do patients think of their interactions with mental health clinicians?

Vinnie Khunkhun, MD, Assistant Professor in the department, launched a new pilot study at Tulane's outpatient psychiatry clinic in Metairie.  The purpose of the study is to understand the good and bad experiences that patients have had with their mental health doctors and therapists, and also to learn about preferences for how individuals like to make decisions about their psychiatric care.  The knowledge gained from this study will be used to design new interventions to improve their retention and satisfaction with treatment.

Humphreys 2017 3v2Institutional rearing and foster care in the Bucharest Early Intervention Project

The Lancet, considered the world’s leading independent medical journal, published a study by first author and part-time faculty member Kathryn Humphreys, PhD, along with four other faculty from Tulane (Drs. Gleason, Drury, Miron-Murphy, and Zeanah) on Romanian children from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.  The authors showed that when children were followed-up at 12 years of age, children who were removed from orphanages and placed in foster care showed fewer externalizing problems compared to children who had received care as usual (Lancet, July 2015).

Michael ScheeringaD-Cycloserine Augmentation of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Meta-Analysis

In a meta-analysis that was published in JAMA Psychiatry (online first January 25, 2017), Michael Scheeringa, M.D. joined the investigators of 20 other randomized controlled trials of D-cycloserine augmentation of CBT for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and posttraumatic stress disorders. Participants receiving DCS showed greater improvement from pre-to-post-treatment.  Antidepressants did not moderate the effects of DCS.  Acceleration of treatment effects that had been observed in some individual trials could not be confirmed.  The small effect found at post-treatment tended to be lost at longer-term follow-up.