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White House names Young-McCaughan 'Champion of Change'

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 · Volume: XLVII · Issue: 7

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Stacey Young-McCaughan, RN, Ph.D., is director of research for two multidisciplinary and multi-institution consortia based at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio that conduct research on how to better understand, prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Stacey Young-McCaughan, RN, Ph.D., is director of research for two multidisciplinary and multi-institution consortia based at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio that conduct research on how to better understand, prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder. clear graphic

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By Rosanne Fohn

Stacey Young-McCaughan, RN, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine, was honored March 21 by the White House with its Women Veteran Leaders Champion of Change award.

More than $100 million in PTSD research
Under the leadership of Alan Peterson, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the School of Medicine, Dr. Young-McCaughan serves as director of research for the STRONG STAR Consortium and the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (CAP).

The consortia together represent more than $100 million in research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions led by the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

White House award
As a registered nurse with a doctoral degree in physiological nursing, Dr. Young-McCaughan joined the Army Nurse Corps right out of college, eager for the wide range of nursing experiences it offered and the opportunity to care for service members and their families.
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Her 29-year military career included a variety of clinical and research positions with a primary focus in oncology. The position also led to assignments as:
  • Deputy director of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs;
  • Chief of evidence-based practice for the U.S. Army's Medical Command Quality Management Division;
  • Chief of nursing research; and
  • Chief of clinical investigation for Brooke Army Medical Center.
“The patients I cared for taught me great courage in the face of life-threatening disease and injury,” Dr. Young-McCaughan said. “The cancer survivors I worked with taught me the power of advocacy. The individuals who participated in my research operationalized the joy of discovery as well as the challenge of moving research into practice.”

Recruited to the Health Science Center
Upon retirement as an Army colonel, Dr. Young-McCaughan joined the Health Science Center to lend her expertise to STRONG STAR, which presented a new type of challenge.

“Particularly exciting is that over 1,000 service members and veterans have been recruited into clinical trials testing evidence-based treatments from the civilian world for their effectiveness with combat-related PTSD. Additionally, as part of the consortium, I direct my own project testing an exercise intervention to augment treatment for PTSD,” she said.

Providing relief from PTSD
STRONG STAR, or the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience, is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium designed to understand, prevent and treat combat-related PTSD and other conditions often associated with the disorder.

STRONG STAR and the CAP bring together more than 125 of the world’s top research investigators from over 20 collaborating civilian, military and Veterans Administration (VA) institutions, including all seven divisions of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

Successful PTSD treatments for civilians
STRONG STAR employs primarily two types of cognitive-behavioral therapy — Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) — that have been shown in research studies to treat 80 percent of civilians to the point of remission.
Alan Peterson, Ph.D., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, directs STRONG STAR and the CAP coordinating center under Health Science Center leadership.
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Alan Peterson, Ph.D., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, directs STRONG STAR and the CAP coordinating center under Health Science Center leadership. clear graphic

 

Ongoing studies
STRONG STAR is conducting 25 clinical studies in Central and South Texas evaluating PE, CPT and similar therapies in active-duty military and recently discharged veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Genetic, epidemiological and biological studies also are underway to learn more about biological influences on PTSD and related conditions to develop new and improved prevention and treatment methods.

Guided by a government steering committee, the CAP is formulating studies that will address current research gaps, and develop and evaluate new diagnostics, therapeutics and preventions for PTSD and conditions associated with it, emphasizing genetic and biological markers.

Dr. Peterson, a clinical psychologist in the School of Medicine, directs both STRONG STAR and the CAP coordinating center under Health Science Center leadership, through funding from the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration and other funding sources.

Experimenting with successful treatments
A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Dr. Peterson served two deployments in Iraq and had been trained in PE by its developer, Edna Foa, Ph.D., now a STRONG STAR collaborator. Because there are no standard guidelines for treating PTSD for military use, Dr. Peterson and his staff began adapting PE therapy while in Iraq to meet the military’s unique needs.

In 2006, after retiring from the military, Dr. Peterson joined the Health Science Center where he was successful in bringing together military and civilian leaders to begin the two research groups.

For more information
Visit the STRONG STAR website for more about the consortia research and how to participate in PTSD studies in San Antonio, Waco and Fort Hood.

 
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