MTOP’s scientific mission is to advance understanding of the causes of trauma, poor mental and physical health following trauma, and factors that promote resilience, as well as to evaluate prevention and intervention strategies for those affected by trauma.
Individuals exposed to trauma are at risk for a host of negative consequences, including mental health concerns (i.e., PTSD, suicide) and physical health issues (i.e., immunologic impairment, pain). While research has long explored the risk factors for negative outcomes, research assessing individuals who are recently traumatized has proven difficult. As such, in several projects we assess acute traumatic injury survivors to identify early markers of risk for distress after trauma. Our research utilizes many different methods and levels of analysis, including one’s self-reported experience and symptoms, emotional and cognitive processes such as attention and emotion regulation, socio-environmental factors such as community violence and discrimination. We also examine the role of biological markers easily obtainable with a blood draw, such as hormones, markers of inflammation, genes, gene expression, and other markers of stress responding. In some studies, we also record brain function and structure using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A critical aim of our research is to account for the socioecological factors that relate to trauma, knowing that trauma disparately impacts individuals in our community. As such, several projects focus on racial and ethnic minority populations and explore the intersection of socio-environmental and biological variables in the context of trauma.
Together, we aim to improve the prediction of who is most at-risk for PTSD and other sequalae after trauma. This will facilitate more precise early intervention and mitigate long term consequences.