Audrey R. Tyrka Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Dr. Tyrka received her MD and PhD in medicine and psychology through a combined program at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a psychiatry residency at Brown Medical School and further research training in clinical neuroscience at the Mood Disorders Research Program and Laboratory for Clinical Neuroscience at Butler Hospital and Brown University. Dr. Tyrka is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown.  She is the Director of Research at Butler Hospital and Director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Translational Neuroscience.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

research overview

Audrey Tyrka studies the interaction of neurobiological and psychosocial factors in the development of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as novel treatment approaches for these disorders. The goal of this work is to understand the risk and protective factors for mood and anxiety disorders that may be used to develop better approaches toward prevention and treatment.

research statement

Audrey Tyrka's research is focused on the identification of endophenotypes, or latent risk factors, for psychiatric disorders. Her early prospective work identified behavioral and psychological markers of the later development of schizophrenia and eating disorders. More recently, she has focused on stress reactivity and neuroendocrine function as a marker of risk for mood and anxiety disorders. Her research involves two major types of investigations: 1) studies of the biological, psychological, and social underpinnings of mood and anxiety disorders, and 2) studies of the efficacy of novel treatments for mood disorders. She is conducting several investigations of subjects at risk for mood and anxiety disorders by virtue of their family history, genotype, neuroendocrine reactivity, or adverse experiences. These potentially vulnerable individuals are studied in comparison to patients with major depression and healthy controls with regard to genes linked to depression and stress reactivity, neuroendocrine function, history of adverse life experiences, social support, personality and emerging psychiatric symptomatology. The goal of this work is to discover individual factors and interactions among factors that produce risk for mood and anxiety disorders and, ultimately, to use this information to guide prevention and treatment efforts. A second line of research involves efforts to advance the treatment of major depression. Our group has investigated several new treatments for depression, including novel pharmacologic and neurostimulation approaches to the treatment of major depression and treatment resistant depression.

funded research

1. National Institute of General Medical Sciences Medical Scientist Training Program, role: Training Grant Recipient, 8/93-8/94.

2. 5 F30 MH10819 Predoctoral National Research Service Award, "Neuropsychological Indicators of Risk for Schizophrenia," role: Principal Investigator, 9/94-5/00.

3. NARSAD (Young Investigator Award), "Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Function in Adults with a History of Childhood Parental Loss," role: Principal Investigator; 6/03-5/05

4. Janssen Pharmaceutica Faculty Development Award in Psychopharmacology, role: Principal Investigator, 5/18/03

5. RSGPB PBP-103382 American Cancer Society, "Improving Smoking Cessation in Smokers with
Depressive Symptoms", role: Study Physician, 7/02-6/04

6. Medtronic, Inc., "Electrical Stimulation of the Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule to Treat Major Depressive Disorder," role: Co-Investigator, 10/02-9/04

7. K23MH067947 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award, "Risk for Depression, Stress, and Neuroendocrine Function," role: Principal Investigator; 12/03-11/08

8. Pfizer, Inc. "Sertraline Treatment and Cortisol Response to the DEX/CRH Test", Investigator-Initiated, role: Co-Investigator, 1/04-11/06

9. United States Department of the Interior, "Perceived Early Life Stress and DEX/CRH Test Response as Predictors of Psychological Sequelae following Exposure of Healthy Adults to War Stress," role: Co-Investigator, 7/04-6/05

10. UCB Pharma, Inc. "Keppra Treatment and Cortisol Response to the DEX/CRH Test in Healthy Subjects," Investigator-Initiated, role: Co-Investigator, 6/04-5/07

11. NCCAM/NIMH AT001742, "Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of SAMe vs. escitalopram in MDD," role: Study Physician, 4/04 - 3/09

12. United States Department of Defense, "Biomarkers of risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," role: Principal Investigator, 4/01/07-4/01/10

13. Cyberonics, Inc. "Randomized Comparison of Outcomes in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression Who Receive VNS Therapy Administered at Different Amounts of Electrical Charge" role: Co-Investigator; 11/1/07-12/1/10

14. Medtronic, Inc. "RECLAIM Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Clinical Study for Treatment- Resistant Depression." Multi-Site; role: Sub-Investigator 4/16/2009-

15. R01 MH0687670 "DEX/CRH Response: Mood/Anxiety Disorder Endophenotype? Phase 2." role: Co-Investigator, 12/08-11/13

16. R01 MH083704 "Childhood Maltreatment: Biomarkers of Risk and Resilience," role: Principal Investigator, 12/09-11/14

17. R01 NR012005 "RCT of Hatha Yoga for Persistent Depression," role: Co-Investigator, 2/11 - 01/15

18. R21 MH091508 "Childhood Maltreatment: Epigenetic Modulation of the Glucocorticoid
Receptor," role: Principal Investigator, 4/08/11-3/31/13

19. R01MH068767 - 08W1 Supplement to "DEX/CRH Response: Mood/Anxiety Disorder Endophenotype? Phase 2." Telomere Shortening in Relation to Early-Life Stress, role: Co-Investigator, 5/8/12-4/30/13

20. R01 MH083704-Supplement to “Childhood Maltreatment: Biomarkers of Risk and Resilience,” role: Principal Investigator, 07/29/12-11/30/2014.

21. R34 MH099310 “Testosterone Augmentation in Women,” role: Co-Investigator, 6/30/13-6/30/15.

22. HHSN2712011000061 “Rapidly Acting Treatments for Treatment-Resistant Depression (RAPID),” role: Co-Investigator, 4/1/14-3/31/16.

23. Brown Institute for Brain Science / Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute New Frontiers Award “Developmental Response to Early Stress: Neural Mechanisms of Cognitive and Behavioral Effects,” role: Co Principal Investigator, 1/1/14-12/31/14.

24. 1 R01 MH101107-1 “Early Life Stress: Epigenetic Regulation of Endocrine and Immune Pathways,” role: Principal Investigator, 4/1/2014-3/31/2019.

25. 1 R01 NR014540-01A1 “RCT of a Tailored Walking Program to Reduce Stress Among Pregnant Women,” role: Co-Investigator,  9/17/14-9/16/19.

26.  R01MH105379-01 “Biomarkers, Social, and Affective Predictors of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Adolescents”, role: Co-Investigator, 3/1/15-2/28/16    

27.  1R01HD086487-01  “Risk Profiles and Mechanisms of Disease in Maltreated Children,” role: Principal Investigator, 9/1/15-8/31/20, pending.