MTOP's Scientific Aims

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.

A central aim of our research is to account for the socioecological factors relating to trauma, knowing that trauma disproportionately affects individuals from marginalized communities. Thus, many of our projects explore the intersection of socio-environmental and biological variables in the context of trauma among individuals who identify as members of ethnoracial minority groups.

To this end, our research utilizes various methods and levels of analysis to characterize risk and resilience factors. These include self-reported experiences and symptoms, emotional and cognitive processes like attention and emotion regulation, and socio-environmental factors such as community violence and racial discrimination. Additionally, we investigate the role of biological markers easily obtainable with a blood draws, including hormones, markers of inflammation, genes, gene expression, and other indicators of stress response. In some studies, we also record brain function and structure using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Together, our MTOP research team aims to improve understanding of risk for negative health consequences related to trauma and inequity, with the overarching goal of utilizing this knowledge to mitigate disparities and improve the quality of life for all individuals and communities.Individuals exposed to trauma are at risk for a range of harmful consequences, including mental health concerns (e.g., PTSD, suicide) and physical health issues (e.g., immunologic impairment, pain). While research has long explored the risk factors for these 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 poor outcomes after trauma.

See Research for more information about our research interests and results from our studies.
See Ongoing Studies for more information about current projects.