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Frances H. Gabbay

Frances H. Gabbay, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Scientist,
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

Frances H. Gabbay, Ph.D., is Research Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Staff Scientist in the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), and Director of the Clinical Psychophysiology and Psychopharmacology Laboratory.  Dr. Gabbay received a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Indiana University.  Under the auspices of the Big Ten Consortium Committee on Institutional Cooperation, she also studied at the University of Minnesota, where she affiliated with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Predoctoral Training Program in Behavioral Genetics, focusing on psychophysiology and the study of addiction.  After completing postdoctoral training in psychopharmacology, she held faculty positions in the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota and the Department of Mental Hygiene at The Johns Hopkins University.  In addition, she held an appointment as Guest Researcher in the Section on Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, Intramural Research Program at NIMH, where she worked in the Unit on Psychophysiology.

The research program established by Dr. Gabbay and her colleagues in the CPPL conforms to an emerging view, that mental disorders reflect extreme ends of continuously distributed dimensions, variation in which results from the interplay of multiple genetic and environmental influences.  She uses event-related brain potentials, psychopharmacological challenge, and personality measures to characterize normal variation in three dimensions implicated in substance use disorders—reward sensitivity, the novelty response, and inhibitory control—and to evaluate the role of these dimensions in risk and resilience for substance-related problems.  Most recently, her work has addressed the manner in which these and related dimensions interact with negative affectivity to affect the co-occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders. Dr. Gabbay established her research program with a New Investigator Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and has served as Principal Investigator on subsequent grants to support her research, from NIDA, NIAAA, the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to her own research program, Dr. Gabbay has participated in several collaborative efforts in the Department of Psychiatry, designed to develop new vantage points from which to consider challenges facing military leaders.  These efforts have sought to consider such challenges in light of empirical evidence and by promoting discussion across disciplinary boundaries.  Most recently, Dr. Gabbay chaired the organizing committee for the latest Forum on Health and National Security sponsored by the CSTS and the Department of Psychiatry, Military Families in Transition: Stress, Resilience, and Well-Being.  This forum focused on stressors confronted by military families as they transition from wartime to peace, garrison, and small group deployments.  Dr. Gabbay and the organizing committee brought together military and civilian leaders, health care and family services educators, as well as researchers, planners, and providers, to discuss interventions to mitigate the effects of those stressors and strategies to enhance the resilience and well-being of these families.  She also served on the editing committee for the forum proceedings, as well as that for the proceedings of a previous forum, Stigma and Barriers to Care: Caring for Those Exposed to War, Disaster, and Terrorism.

Dr. Gabbay also participated in an earlier, similarly structured effort, entitled Sex Differences, Stress, and Military Readiness, which likewise convened military and civilian experts, in this case to evaluate effects on military readiness of sex differences in exposure and response to stress.  The effort included a conference and culminated in a Technical Report, which Dr. Gabbay edited and to which she contributed three chapters, including an overview entitled Beyond the Mythology: A Constructive Approach to Sex Differences and Military Readiness.

She is active in the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR), having served on the Board of Directors and as Associate Editor for Psychophysiology, the most established journal in its field.  She has served as Scientific Program Chair for the annual SPR meeting, and is currently SPR liaison to the Psychology and Neuroscience sections of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and SPR representative to the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.  Dr. Gabbay is a member of the Behavior Genetics Association and the Research Society on Alcoholism, and has presented her work at the annual meetings of these societies as well as those of SPR and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.  She has served as ad hoc reviewer for two NIDA Special Emphasis Panels, the NIAAA Neuroscience Review Subcommittee, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and for numerous scientific journals representing the diverse fields of psychophysiology, substance abuse, and genetics.