USD research to provide new insights into traumatic stress in veterans

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Researchers at the University of South Dakota are part of a multidisciplinary study that will provide new insights into the complex issues regarding effects of traumatic stress. The research project, made possible by a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, examines longitudinal associations between traumatic stress and health outcomes among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.

Dr. Jeffrey Simons, professor of psychology, and Dr. Raluca Gaher, assistant professor of psychology, are examining several social, psychological, environmental and genetic factors that contribute to individual differences in resilience and vulnerability. The project uses several advanced methods of data collection, including near real-time monitoring of behavior with palmtop computers. The ultimate goal of the researchers is to improve care for the country’s newest generation of veterans.

The research is being conducted with partners at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. and the Veteran Health Care System in Bay Pines, Fla. Drs. Simons and Gaher are also collaborating with a behavioral geneticist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an electrochemical engineering firm in Boston, Mass., and a leading expert in longitudinal modeling at the University of California-Davis.

“The importance of this research project cannot be understated,” said Dr. Laura Jenski, vice president for research at USD.  “It brings together team members from multiple disciplines to provide a full scope of solutions and technologies with the hope of providing new inlets of treatment in caring for our veterans.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AA020519. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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