Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU secures $400k to research stress disorders among veterans

FAU’s research team targets early life stress and PTSD in veterans.
Erika Fletcher
FAU Veteran Center

The Community Foundation of Broward granted the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute research team at Florida Atlantic University $400,000 to continue research on combat stress disorders, specifically PTSD, that affect veterans due to traumatic scenes of war. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects approximately seven out of every 100 veterans, while in the general population, about six out of every 100 adults will experience PTSD during their lifetime. 

Donald Gabriel, a representative at the Military and Veterans Student Success Center at FAU, explains why PTSD is so relevant.

 “A lot of the environment veterans are in can create [a] stressful flashback. It can initiate an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and depression,” Gabriel said.

The ongoing research could allow the team to understand how PTSD alters brain structures and functions. As well as how traumatic experiences can cause changes in gene expression. 

Gabriel knows very well the difficulties veterans face when transferring back into civilian life. Especially when they have to perform that while simultaneously being a student.

“Some go to university and they face a completely different environment. And when they deal with experiences that they are not familiar with it can create an unsettling feeling in the body,” Gabriel stated. 

The grant will be used over the next four years to  support studies focused on identifying triggers of early life stressors as well as post-traumatic stress symptoms that may relate to traumatic brain injury. 

Cheryl Krause-Parello, a research professor at the College of Nursing, and Chad Forbes, an associate professor at FAU’s department of psychology, are examining how veterans respond to photobiomodulation (PBM). According to Forbes, PBM is “a low-level laser light therapy that uses red and near-infrared light to stimulate healing, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation in damaged cells and tissues.”

Red light therapy  could potentially improve various health conditions, according to an article in the National Library of Medicine.

Research Laboratory Manager Destiny Fava feels confident about the credibility and ethics of this research.

“It is an alternative non-invasive solution, utilizing red light therapy for effective treatment,” Fava said.

David Green, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement, has high hopes for FAU’s neuroscience program and believes this $400,000 donation will benefit the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute.

“The FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute comprises some of the very best research and programming in neuroscience, not only in Florida but nationwide. This partnership with the Community Foundation of Broward helps further the institute’s mission of better understanding the human brain while educating the next generation of neuroscientists,” Green explained.

Jason Steinfeld is a staff writer for University Press. For more information about this article or others, you can reach him via Instagram @jasonsteinfeld221 or email him at [email protected].

Julia Vitoria Souza contributed to reporting.

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Erika Fletcher
Erika Fletcher, Lead Photographer
Erika is a senior majoring in multimedia studies with a minor in photography. She loves shooting sports and street photography and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, skateboarding, playing soccer, listening to music, and being with her friends and family. She joined the UP on a whim to make new friends and to get better at photography. In her time here, while not long, she's made connections and learned so much about herself already and can't wait to continue her journey with such great people.

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