Our Research

Current Research Studies

Building Resilience at Schools in Puerto Rico

Our research collaboration aims to improve the psychological well-being of teachers, counselors, and children in the Puerto Rico school district. By implementing training for teachers and counselors we aim to increase system competency when addressing high stress and adversity in students. In this manner, our goal is to build resilience in a system that has been highly impacted by recent trauma.

Through a research component, we will identify critical biopsychosocial markers of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and academic performance. We theorize that the training Start with the Heart (for teachers) and the Cue-Centered Therapy (CCT) training (for counselors) will impact these markers favorably. The training will help decrease negative psychological symptoms such as burnout and symptoms of traumatic stress. We also anticipate these interventions will provide insight into the genetic expression of resilience.

If you have any questions about this research study, please contact Lab Manager, Emily Wu at emilywu@stanford.edu

Construyendo Resiliencia en las Escuelas

¡Permítanos presentarnos! Somos el Programa de Estrés y Resiliencia en la Vida Temprana de la Escuela de Medicina de Stanford en conjunto con la Universidad de Ciencias de la Salud de Ponce. Tenemos un compromiso inquebrantable de brindar atención e intervenciones de mindfulness (mente plena) a las comunidades en Puerto Rico (Use el guión de Víctor del video para la traducción al español). Mediante la implementación de entrenamiento en mindfulness para maestros y entrenamiento en Terapia de Claves Traumáticas (TCT) para consejeros, nuestro objetivo es aumentar el bienestar psicológico y emocional de las comunidades que se enfrentan al estrés y la adversidad y aprender de la resiliencia demostrada.


Artificial Intelligence and Mental Health

The cumulative effects of trauma and chronic stress reduce the ability of youth to flexibly cope with subsequent stressful situations, which lead to allostatic load or physiological wear and tear. ELSRP researchers are currently working with collaborators at Stanford Human Artificial Intelligence to create a new assessment strategy for allostatic load using machine learning where both resiliency factors and biological markers of stress are taken into account. We are aiming to achieve an innovative way to detect youth at risk for stress-related physical and mental disorders with the goal of prevention via early intervention.


If you have any questions about this research study, please contact Dr. Souhad Chbeir at schbeir@stanford.edu

Cultural Considerations for Cue-Centered Therapy in Asian American Youth

Under Construction...


If you have any questions about this research study, please contact Lab Manager, Emily Wu at emilywu@stanford.edu

Impacts of Childhood Exposure to Violence: Evidence from School Shootings

Understanding the Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Childhood Exposure to Violence: Evidence from School Shootings. The objective of this project is to use large-scale administrative data to study the effects of school shootings on children’s short- and long-term behavioral, educational, and economic outcomes.


If you have any questions about this research study, please contact Elizabeth Santana at eliz5@stanford.edu

Epigenetics Research

 The Impact of Stress on Genetic Mobility and Expression

Understanding the role of stress in the growth of neurons. Stem cell derived neurons will be exposed to incremental amounts of stress (e.g.,deoxygenation) to learn the role of noxious environmental stimuli on the activity and expression of Line 1 genes.

If you have any questions about this research study, please contact Emily Wu at emilywu@stanford.edu

Completed Research Studies

Health and Wellness

The Stanford Health and Wellness Study is a three-year longitudinal, multi-method research evaluation of a district-wide yoga- and mindfulness-based curriculum currently being implemented in a K-8th grade school district, the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, California. The purpose of the research is to measure the impact of the curriculum on students’ social, emotional, and cognitive functioning and academic performance over time by evaluating progress at three time points (baseline, one-year follow-up, and 18-month follow-up).

Investigators and Partners

The Health and Wellness Study is a partnership between Pure Edge Inc., Ravenswood City School District, Alum Rock Unified School District, Orchard School District, and Stanford University.

Stanford University research teams 

Participating Stanford University research teams include the Early Life Stress and Resilience Program (Dr. Victor Carrion, PI), the Stanford Cognitive & Systems Neuroscience Lab (Dr. Vinod Menon, PI), the Stanford Sleep Lab (Dr. Ruth O’Hara, PI).

Many thanks to our partners!

Cue-Centered Therapy Study

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cue-Centered Treatment (CCT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Treatment as Usual (TAU)

This is a three year study that will examine three treatment conditions for traumatized youth: CCT, TF-CBT, and TAU which is comprised of flexible integrated services offered at Stanford Youth Solutions, a community mental health agency in Sacramento. The purpose of the study is to determine what child characteristics predict better treatment outcomes, which phases of treatment are most effective, and to identify neuro-markers that may be predictors of better outcomes. Behavioral assessments along with neuroimaging (functional-near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs)are being conducted at four time points: pre-, mid-, and post-treatment and at three month follow-up. fNIRS examines dynamic hemoglobin concentration as a reflection of subcortical brain activity. This study is exploring the clinical potential of using a pre-treatment fNIRS measurement to predict treatment outcomes in youth with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) compared to healthy controls (HC). NIRS is far less invasive and expensive than fMRI, and its clinical potential has yet to be fully explored.

Investigators and Partners

This study is collaboration between Stanford Youth Solutions and Stanford University. The research team comprises the Stanford Early Life Stress and Resilience Program (Dr. Victor Carrion, PI, Dr. Flint Espil, Co-PI, and Dr. Hilit Kletter, CCT consultant), Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (Allan Reiss, neuroimaging consultant), Drexel University (Judith Cohen, TF-CBT consultant), and Iowa State University (Carl Weems, statistical consultant).

If you have any questions about Stanford Youth Solutions  or would like to be contacted regarding involvement in our study, please contact Lab Manager, Emily Wu at emilywu@stanford.edu

Neural Correlates of Behavior Therapy for Tic Disorders

This study is an attempt to examine potential predictors of outcomes among youth (ages 12-17) receiving behavior therapy for tic disorders. Tic Disorders, including Tourette’s Disorder, occur in 1 out of every 1000 youth, and are considered lifelong disorders. For many individuals, these tics do not cause any problems or distress, but for others they may be severe enough to warrant intervention. The approach with the most scientific backing to date is the Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics, or CBIT. This approach is rooted in behavioral therapy principles, and teaches individuals with tics to become more aware of when their tics are occurring and then use tic management strategies.

Although CBIT is effective for the majority of individuals who participate in therapy, there are still many questions surrounding why and how the approach works. The goal of this study is to examine the areas of the brain implicated in ticcing and how activation in these areas might change after receiving CBIT. Results from this study would not only help us better understand potential treatment mechanisms, but would also be an important first step in our goal of understanding the underlying circuitry of tic disorders more generally. 

Beginning in July of 2017, we will begin enrolling youth with tic disorders (n = 12) and, for comparison purposes, youth without any history of tic disorders (n = 12). All participants will complete a series of computerized assessment measures while their brain activity is being measured using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), a noninvasive imaging approach similar to electroencephalogram (EEG). Participants will complete these assessments on two separate occasions, and results will be compared between time points and groups.

Investigators and Partners

This study is made possible through a grant awarded to Dr. Flint Espil (PI) by the American Academy of Neurology, the American Brain Foundation, and the Tourette Association of America. The research team comprises Dr. Espil and other ELSRP staff as well as collaboration with the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (Dr. Allan Reiss, neuroimaging consultant), and Comparative Medicine (Dr. Joseph Garner, neuroimaging and biostatistics consultant). 

If you have any questions about the Neural Correlates of Behavior Therapy for Tic Disorders, please contact Flint Espil, PhD at espil@stanford.edu

The Spectrum Pilot Grant

The Spectrum Pilot Grant for Population Health Sciences from the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education to support ongoing partnership with One East Palo Alto’s Behavioral Health Advisory Group Ambassador Team (BHAGAT).  BHAGAT provides support and crisis response services to students and families at Ronald McNair Academy in the Ravenswood City School District.  The purpose of this grant is to work with BHAGAT to develop and implement a training and consultation program to facilitate BHAGAT ambassador access to resources from the PracticeWise Managing Adaptive Practice (MAP) approach. Drs. Matlow and Espil will seek to adapt MAP materials to provide resources as appropriate for the support services provided by BHAGAT members.  This collaboration will include efforts to capture and measure the impact of BHAGAT services in the McNair community.  In addition, as part of the current grant and partnership, Drs. Matlow and Espil plan to convene an advisory group of community members and BHAGAT stakeholders to inform service needs and training program development. 

If you have any questions about The Spectrum Pilot Grant, please contact Ryan Matlow, PhD at rmatlow@stanford.edu

Research Publications

Victor Carrión, M.D.

  • The Network Structure of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Children and Adolescents Exposed to DisastersJournal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
    Russell JD, Neill EL, Carrion VG , Weems CF
    2017; Vol 56: 669-677
  • The Moderating Effects of Sex on Insulasubdivision Structure in Youth with Posttraumatic Stress SymptomsDepression Anxiety
    Klabunde M, Weems CF, Raman M, Carrion VG
    2017; 34: 51-58
  • Post-traumatic Stress and Age Variation in Amygdala Volumes Among Youth Exposed to TraumaSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
    Weems CF, Klabunde M, Russell JD, Reiss AL,Carrion VG
    2015; 1-7
  • Child abuse, disruptive behavior disorders, depression, and salivary cortisol levels among institutionalized and community-residing boys in Mongolia Asia Pac Psychiatry
    Kohrt BA, Hruschka DJ, Kohrt HE, Carrion VG, Waldman ID, Worthman CM
    2015: In Press. 7(1):7-19.
  • Helping Children Exposed to War and Violence: Perspectives from an International Work Group on Interventions for Youth and Families Child & Youth Care Forum
    Kletter H, Rialon R, Laor N, Brom D, Horenczyk RP, Shaheen M, Hamiel D, Chemtob C, Weems CF, Feinstein C, Lieberman A, Reicherter D, Song S, Carrion VG
    2013: 42: 371-388. 
  • Introduction To a Special Issue On Research With Youth Exposed To Disasters and Violence Child & Youth Care Forum
    Carrion VG & Weems CF.
    2013: 42: 257-259
  • Cue-centered treatment for youth exposed to interpersonal violence: a randomized controlled trial Journal of Traumatic Stress
    Carrion VG, Kletter, H, Weems, CF, Rialon Berry, R, & Rettger JP
    2013: 26: 654-662.

To find more of Dr. Carrións published works >


Ryan Matlow, Ph.D.

  • Reducing Protections for Noncitizen Children — Exacerbating Harm and Trauma New England Journal of Medicine Matlow, R., & Reicherter, D. 
  • Addressing trauma and attachment in Latino immigrant youth and their familiesInternational Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.2016 ; StressPoints: A Quarterly eNewsletter of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Matlow, R. B., Romero, M. B.
  • Creating lab reports on psychological outcomes of political violence in human rights criminal cases: The Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory at Stanford University Cambodia's Hidden Scars: Trauma Psychology and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of CambodiaReicherter, D., Reed, D., Williamson, R., Matlow, R.edited by van Schaack, B., Reicherter, D.Documentation Center of Cambodia. 2016; 2: 268–276
  • The Impact of Appraisals and Context on Readiness to Leave a Relationship Following Intimate Partner Abuse VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMENMatlow, R. B., DePrince, A. P.2015; 21 (9): 1043-1064

Hilit Kletter, Ph.D.

A prospective study of the association between caregiver psychopathology and symptom clusters in pediatric post-traumatic stress disorderJournal of Traumatic Stress
Wong, SS, Kletter, H, Wong, Y, & Carrion, V
2013; 26, 385-391.

Update on neuroimaging in maltreatment-related pediatric ptsd: treatment implications Journal of Family Violence
Carrion, V, Wong, S, & Kletter, H
(2012). , 28, 53-61.

Brain activation to facial expressions in youth with PTSD symptoms Depression and Anxiety
Garrett, AS, Carrion, V, Kletter, H, Karchemskiy, A, Weems, CF, Glover, G, & Reiss, A
2012; 29, 449-459.

Guilt and posttraumatic stress symptoms in child victims of interpersonal violence Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Kletter, H, Weems, C, & Carrion, V
2009;14, 71-83.

To learn more about Dr. Kletter >