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CESAMH Leadership Team

The CESAMH Leadership Team is charged with the planning, coordination, and execution of Center-wide goals and activities to ensure synchronization across the Clinical Research Unit, Neuroscience Research Unit, and Education and Dissemination Unit.

Ariel J. Lang, Ph.D., MPH – Director, CESAMH

Dr. Lang oversees CESAMH’s Units and activities, serves as an approving official for all budgetary and operational activities, and guides the direction of Center efforts. She is also responsible for quality control of Center products and projects and for ensuring that administrative timelines and guidelines are followed.

Dewleen G. Baker, M.D. – Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Unit

Dr. Baker’s role in CESAMH is informed by her background as a clinician, research scientist and educator in VA (Cincinnati and San Diego) and at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and University of California San Diego (UCSD) which has focused upon stress-related disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Gulf War Illness, and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).  As Director of the CESAMH Neuroscience Research Unit, her role is to work in tandem with the CESAMH Leadership Team and Neuroscience Unit Members to assure teamwork in accomplishing CESAMH goals and initiatives, to encourage productive CESAMH-related internal and external collaborations, and to foster an atmosphere that supports of innovation in development of new ideas and CESAMH-related projects.

Victoria B. Risbrough, Ph.D. – Acting Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Unit

Dr. Risbrough provides leadership for research and program development with a focus on animal model research, physiological markers of trauma, contribution of sleep to PTSD risk and symptom maintenance, and the study of mind-body interactions. The goal of Dr. Risbrough’s work is to understand the basic mechanisms underlying trauma disorders to support development of novel diagnostic and treatment interventions.

Laurie A. Lindamer, Ph.D. – Director, Education & Dissemination Unit

Dr. Lindamer oversees dissemination and implementation activities for CEASMH, as well as the training for programs in VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) Mental Health Care Line.   She is the Director of the CESAMH Psychology Fellowship and Director of the APA-accredited Clinical Mental Health Research Psychology Fellowship.  Her research interests focus on the implementation of evidence-based practices and health technology.

Elizabeth W. Twamley, Ph.D., Director, Clinical Research Unit

Dr. Twamley oversees a group of about 18 investigators who are primarily performing clinical research within CESAMH. She is particularly interested in the links between cognition and everyday functioning as well as community-based interventions that help people reach their highest potential social and occupational functioning. She has developed compensatory cognitive training programs for individuals with traumatic brain injury, severe mental illness, and mild cognitive impairment. Dr. Twamley’s research within CESAMH focuses on bridging neuropsychology and interventions such as compensatory cognitive training and supported employment for veterans with cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. She is also interested in cognitive impairment and disability in homeless individuals as well as the use of technology to improve cognition.

Amy J. Jak, Ph.D., Associate Director, Clinical Research Unit

Dr. Jak is a neuropsychologist and investigates hybrid treatments to address persistent post-concussive symptom presentations in Veterans with history of concussion and comorbid mental health conditions, particularly PTSD.  Therapies that integrate compensatory cognitive strategies and cognitive behavioral techniques are of particular focus in her research. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging outcome variables are of primary interest.

Caroline Nievergelt, Ph.D. – Associate Director, Neuroscience Research Unit

Dr. Nievergelt provides leadership for research and program development, including leading the CESAMH BioBank and collaborating with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) GWAS and EWAS groups. Her research focus includes genomics and biomarker research for psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, and related traits.

James Pittman, Ph.D., LCSW – Associate Director, Education & Dissemination Unit

Dr. Pittman oversees social work and triage services for CESAMH’s clinical activities  and conducts clinical research studies that investigate the relationship between psychological trauma and psychosocial outcomes, as well as the implementation and use of technology, particularly eScreening, in assessment and treatment.