News Release: Research , School of Medicine

Jul. 23,  2010

Innovative Treatments for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury Presented to Veterans Affairs Committee

Dr. Barbara Rothbaum describes the symptoms
of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Emory Professor Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, was invited by the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Affairs to participate this week in a roundtable discussion on "Innovative Treatments for TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)." Rothbaum presented information about a study she currently is leading that combines virtual reality exposure therapy with the drug D-cycloserine (DCS) to treat service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD.

"Military commanders are ready to develop new programs that will quickly identify and treat active duty service members and veterans who are showing symptoms of PTSD," says Rothbaum, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. "They recognize that symptoms of PTSD are not as obvious as a physical injury, but nonetheless just as important, and that they need to be treated before the symptoms worsen."

Over the last decade, Rothbaum has partnered with colleagues Michael Davis, PhD, and Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory University School of Medicine to develop and conduct testing for treatment of anxiety-related disorders using the drug D-cycloserine (DCS) in combination with exposure-based psychotherapy to diminish the underlying fear response.

The first clinical trials using DCS were completed in 2004 and were so encouraging that more than 10 additional clinical trials are under way to examine the effect of DCS on PTSD and other anxiety and fear-based disorders.

"A large part of the problem PTSD patients have is the fear of the memory itself," Rothbaum explains. "Although the memories will never really go away, we believe that the DCS will make it easier for patients to learn how not to fear their memories."

Rothbaum has also served as a Blue Ribbon Panel Member for Pentagon officials since 2009; consultant to the Department of Defense following the shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas; and as a consultant training Air Force psychologists in Virtual Realty Exposure Therapy.

More information on Dr. Rothbaum's study can be found at

Drs. Ressler and Davis are co-authors of a patent for the use of D-cycloserine for the specific enhancement of learning during psychotherapy and are co-founders of SyneurRx Pharmaceuticals, LLC, which holds the patent rights for this indication. The terms of these arrangements have been reviewed and approved by Emory University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.

Under an agreement between Virtually Better, Inc. and Emory University, Dr. Barbara Rothbaum is entitled to a share of sales royalty received by the University from Virtually Better, Inc. Under that agreement, Emory University and Dr. Rothbaum have received Virtually Better, Inc. equity interests. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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