Ruth O’Hara, Ph.D.


Dr. Ruth O’Hara is an Associate Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Translational Research Core of the Veterans Affairs Sierra-Pacific Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC). Her research focuses on longitudinal investigations of the relationship between neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms in normal and pathological aging.  In particular, she aims to identify genetic, neuroimaging and sleep biomarkers that predict the onset of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders in late life. She served on the DSM 5 Sleep Wake Workgroup, and was a member of the national VA Dementia Guidelines Committee. Her current research has a primary emphasis on the impact of sleep disordered breathing, sleep apnea and associated hypoxia on psychiatric symptoms and cognitive function in older adults. She has extensive experience conducting full ambulatory polysomnography in a broad range of late life disorders, with hundreds of such studies conducted in her laboratory to date.  With respect to career development education and mentorship, she serves as national Director of the 26-site, VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Health Research and Treatment which has graduated over 250 MD and PhD Fellows into independent academic clinical research career positions. She also serves as core faculty on the NIMH-funded Career Development Institute in Psychiatry and the Summer Research Institute in Geriatric Psychiatry, and most recently served as faculty at the American Association of Sleep Medicine Young Investigators meeting. As such she is particularly well suited to providing key mentorship in the career development, including ethical conduct in clinical research, grant writing proficiency, and professional collaboration skills key for developing an independent research program and long-term independent academic career.