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In This Section
Dr. Bhatnagar's research aims to further the understanding of the neural basis of individual differences in response to stressful experiences. This includes identifying neural substrates that produce resiliency or vulnerability to the effects of stress and determining treatments to mitigate vulnerability and to promote resiliency through both preclinical and translational studies.
Dr. Bhatnagar leads the Stress Neurobiology Research Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which focuses on why some individuals are vulnerable or resilient to the potentially adverse effects of chronic stress. Chronic stress is a critical factor contributing to the development of affective and anxiety disorders and can precipitate relapse of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. This intimate association between repeated/chronic stress and affective and anxiety disorders underscores the need to understand fully the neural circuitry that regulates the physiological and behavioral consequences of repeated stress.
Along with her colleagues, Dr. Bhatnagar seeks to define the neural substrates that promote resilience to the detrimental/pathological effects of stressful life events. Activation of neural, endocrine, and behavioral responses to stress is necessary for survival. However, with repeated exposure to stress, activation of these responses becomes maladaptive and drives the etiology or progression of affective disorders and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thus, one branch of Dr. Bhatnagar’s research program focuses on defining the neural substrates that permit adaptation to repeated stress. However, only some stressed individuals are vulnerable to developing stress-related illness while others are resilient. The second branch of research conducted by Dr. Bhatnagar and her team involves investigating the factors that contribute to vulnerability in certain individuals and resilience in others. Dr. Bhatnagar is also intensively engaged in collaborations with clinicians to translate findings from animal models into human subjects undergoing various types of challenges.
Education and Training
BS, McGill University (Psychology), 1984
MA, University of Manitoba (Psychology), 1988
PhD, McGill University (Neurological Sciences), 1994
Titles and Academic Titles
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine