Dr. Seth Hays received $2,317,051 from The Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs for his research on Targeted Plasticity Therapy for the Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In order achieve three main goals—obtaining a rigorous, independent replication of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy’s ability to reduce Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) metrics, gathering well-controlled data from active and sham stimulation to estimate effect size, and figuring out whether longer therapy durations result in greater VNS-dependent benefits—this project aims to conduct a rigorous phase 2 clinical study to evaluate VNS paired with pulmonary embolism (PE) to treat individuals with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD.

Based on previous research found in animal models, this research will begin its first-in-human trial to test this intervention in individuals with chronic PTSD. Since PTSD is a significant cause of service-connected disability, lowers operational capabilities, is linked to an increased risk of suicidal ideation, and has a valuable impact on the lives of service members and their families, this research is significant concerning military health. With the help of knowledge gained from this study regarding VNS-based therapies, this treatment will benefit individuals living with PTSD who are veterans and warfighters in the real world. In light of the successful outcome of Dr. Hays’s research, this study will benefit the field of Neuroscience.