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USD to Establish Center for Genetics & Behavioral Health

Photo of Gina Forster. Gina Forster, Ph.D., will lead the new Center for Genetics & Behavioral Health.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota will establish the Center for Genetics & Behavioral Health with a $3.4 million grant awarded by the South Dakota Research and Commercialization Council to study the influences that contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gina Forster, Ph.D., professor of basic biomedical science and director of the Center for Brain and Behavior Research, will lead the center. It aims to place South Dakota at the forefront of personalized treatment of trauma-related illness to significantly reduce the substantial health, financial, and personal burden of PTSD and associated disorders.

"In addition to addressing a significant health problem for South Dakotans and the nation, the Center will focus on workforce development in the state,” said Forster. “Unique and workforce relevant training opportunities will be provided to undergraduate and graduate students, with transdisciplinary teams of investigators working together to better understand and treat PTSD."

In collaboration with the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, the new center will receive $3,466,300 from the South Dakota Governor’s Research Center Program over five years to study genetic and environmental influences that interact with other biological, psychological, and behavioral factors to impact PTSD.

“The goal of the Governor’s Research Center Program is threefold: to develop focused research centers that are competitive for external research funding; to develop and license inventions; and to support existing and spin off start-up companies in South Dakota,” said Nathan Lukkes, assistant vice president for research and economic development at the South Dakota Board of Regents.


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


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 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News