In this lecture, Judith Cukor, PhD, discusses recent developments in treatments for PTSD that combine biological and psychological approaches in potentially synergistic ways. Working in treatment trials with veterans, 9/11, victims, and other sufferers from posttraumatic distress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Cukor and her colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College have been testing the effects of adding d-cycloserine to prolonged exposure, with some initial benefit observed in terms of accelerated treatment effects.
Judith Cukor, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her research and clinical interests center on CBT for PTSD. Note: Joanne Difede, PhD, a colleague of Dr. Cukor, was originally slated to give this lecture, however she fell ill and was unable to do so. Dr. Cukor filled in, delivering Dr. Difede’s lecture in her stead.
JoAnn Difede, Ph.D., is a Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, and Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS). She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work using virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD consequent to the WTC attack of September 11, 2001, and more recently in treatment of combat-related PTSD. Dr. Difede is currently serving as PI of a multi-site Department of Defense funded clinical trial, “Enhancing Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Virtual Reality and Imaginal Exposure with a Cognitive Enhancer,” which is investigating how the use of virtual reality and the pharmacologic agent, d-cycloserine, may accelerate recovery from combat-related PTSD among U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as examining a single candidate gene hypothesis seeking to determine if a variant in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) will predict treatment response. These results may provide a step toward precision medicine in psychiatry providing groundwork for targeting specific PTSD treatments to the individual patient’s neurobiological and genetic profile. Additionally, Dr. Difede served on the NYC Mayor’s Advisory WTC Working Medical Group for several years. She has advised many corporations, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies in the U.S. and internationally regarding the implementation of best practices for the screening, evaluation and treatment of trauma and PTSD.
Dr. Difede’s work has been featured in many popular media venues including the New Yorker, the NY Times, Newsweek and Scientific American as well as on many television programs including the Charlie Rose Show Brain Series, CNN, NBC and ABC’s World News Tonight. Notably, she was featured in New York magazine’s Best Doctors issue in 2005 for her work developing a virtual reality-based treatment for PTSD.