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DARPA STRENGTHEN Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Team

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) is partnering with DARPA on their program Strengthening Resilient Emotions and Nimble Cognition Through Engineering Neuroplasticity, or STRENGTHEN. CSTS will serve as the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) team for STRENGTHEN, bringing extensive expertise in military medicine, psychiatry and psychology, trauma disorders, and cognitive neuroscience.

Program Overview

The goal of the STRENGTHEN program is to increase well-being and prevent or mitigate the effects of traumatic stress leading to behavioral health disorders and suicidality.

To accomplish this, STRENGTHEN seeks to develop novel treatments to enhance cognitive flexibility (CF) and emotion regulation (ER)—key behavioral health mechanisms that protect against traumatic stress.

Under STRENGTHEN, research teams will design hybrid interventions, combining brain-based techniques (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation) with behavioral treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy) to produce complementary and synergistic effects toward optimizing the brain circuits involved in CF and ER.

Our Role

As the IV&V partner for STRENGTHEN, CSTS will provide consultation in areas of subject matter expertise, including military medicine, psychiatry and psychology, trauma disorders, and cognitive neuroscience. In addition, CSTS will aid in fostering collaboration among the research teams and evaluating progress toward program milestones. Critically, the IV&V team will work closely with the research teams throughout the program to ensure the development of interventions that can be transitioned and scaled to military and veteran populations.

The CSTS IV&V team is led by COL Vincent Capaldi and includes Dr. Robert Ursano, Dr. David Benedek, Dr. Frances Gabbay, Dr. Erin Maresh, Dr. Alexandria Pabst, and Samuel Nunn.

STRENGTHEN in the News

USU Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, DARPA collaborate to ‘STRENGTHEN’ mental health

Newswise, November 2023

DARPA Seeks Novel Approaches to Improve Mental Health, Prevent Suicide, November 2022