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PTSD Center Executive Director Receives International Organization’s Highest Honor

Paula Schnurr, PhD, Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), was presented with the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s annual meeting in New Orleans in November.

Paula Schnurr, PhD
Paula Schnurr, PhD

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor given by ISTSS. It is awarded to the individual who has made great lifetime contributions to the field of traumatic stress.

Schnurr, who is also Research Professor of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, has been an integral part of the Center’s leadership since its inception in 1989. As Executive Director, she is responsible for all professional, management, and administrative aspects of the complex, multi-division Center. She oversees and directs the Center’s research projects, educational programs, strategic planning, and other national programs. Schnurr also provides oversight and guidance to advance the quality of care for veterans with PTSD or trauma-related mental illness within the VA healthcare system, promotes mental health, and supports prevention programs.

Schnurr received her PhD in Experimental Psychology at Dartmouth College in 1984 and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. She is Past-President of ISTSS and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Association for Psychological Science. Among her many career honors and awards are ISTSS’ Robert J. Laufer Award for Scientific Achievement and a Health Breakthrough Award from Ladies Home Journal. She has also served as Editor of the ISTSS’ Journal of Traumatic Stress.

An expert on psychotherapy research, Schnurr has conducted a number of clinical trials of PTSD treatment, including two of the largest studies of psychotherapy for PTSD ever conducted. One of these studies was the first study of PTSD treatment for female Veterans and Service Members, and also the first large multi-site VA trial focused specifically on women. Currently, Schnurr is lead principal investigator in a $10 million groundbreaking study that will compare the two leading evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD, Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure. The study, which is in its early stages, will involve 900 Veterans at 17 sites across the country.

About the National Center for PTSD

The National Center for PTSD is the center of excellence for research and education on the prevention, understanding, and treatment of PTSD. Although a Department of Veterans Affairs center, its seven divisions across the country provide expertise on all types of trauma - from natural disasters, terrorism, violence and abuse, to combat exposure. Although the Center provides no direct clinical care, its purpose is to improve the well-being and understanding of individuals who have experienced traumatic events, with a focus on American Veterans. The Center conducts cutting edge research and applies the findings to advance the science of traumatic stress and promote its understanding.