Dr. VanElzakker received a master's degree in behavioral neuroscience at the University of Colorado, working in Dr. Robert Spencer's neuroendocrinology laboratory, and a PhD in experimental clinical psychology at Tufts University, working in Dr. Lisa Shin's psychopathology neuroimaging laboratory. His postdoctoral fellowship is at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, in the Division of Neurotherapeutics.
Dr. VanElzakker is interested in uncovering the mechanisms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and of myalgic encephalomyelitis - also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
His PTSD research uses functional and structural brain imaging, behavioral attention tasks, blood, and genetic data to investigate what makes some individuals vulnerable to PTSD following trauma. He is interested in using non-invasive electroceutical medical devices to enhance safety learning, which may eventually serve as an adjunct to enhance exposure-based therapy for PTSD.
His ME/CFS research uses functional and structural brain imaging to look for abnormal patterns in brain metabolism and inflammation in this patient population. This research focuses on dysfunction at the intersection of the nervous and immune systems and posits that ME/CFS may be what happens when the nervous system detects an exaggerated and ongoing innate immune response. He is interested in using non-invasive electroceutical medical devices to enhance the anti-inflammatory vagus nerve reflex.
To support his research, join a study, or if you are an undergraduate who is interested in joining the lab, please get in touch.