Psychiatry Research


Dr. KnoxAbout 540 children are identified as victims of abuse or neglect each year in Lucas County. 

“For every substantiated case of physical child abuse in the U.S., approximately 40 more exist that go undetected. It’s heartbreaking,” said Dr. Michele Knox, University of Toledo professor of psychiatry who has dedicated her life to protecting children and educating parents with alternative methods of discipline. 

She recently was awarded her second Fulbright award to visit the Netherlands to find innovative and effective ways to improve child abuse prevention in the United States.

“I am honored to receive this award. It is an opportunity to bring home new ideas and approaches because the Netherlands is among the nations with the lowest rates of child maltreatment deaths,” Knox said. “I will be learning from the people there and benefiting from their expertise, knowledge and success.”

Starting in spring 2019, Knox will spend nearly three weeks at the University of Utrecht, the largest university in the Netherlands.

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$3.38 million to study PTSD

Dr. WangA University of Toledo researcher has received a $3.38 million award from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the brain for early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an injury.

PTSD is increasingly recognized as a major mental health problem, with an estimated eight million adults suffering from some form of the disorder as a result of a traumatic event.

The largest grant received by the University from the National Institute of Mental Health, the competitive award was given to Dr. Xin Wang, associate professor of psychiatry in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, to use MRI imaging to study the early development of PTSD in trauma victims.

His study titled “Study of Early Brain Alterations That Predict Development of Chronic PTSD,” will receive $755,000 in 2016, and a total of $3.38 million over a period of four and a half years, pending oversight and review of annual congressionally approved NIH funding levels. The NIH study section that peer-reviewed Wang’s proposal ranked it in the top 4th percentile for “major research” among those competing for mental health research funding. 

The research project will study trauma patients who agree to be monitored for a period of a year during which time they will be evaluated using non-invasive, functional magnetic resonance imaging technology. This state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment is only available at UT Medical Center. Study participants will be recruited from the emergency department at UTMC, as well as the ProMedica and Mercy Health Systems.

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Dr. Wang

Dr. Xin Wang developed a neuroimaging research program of acute trauma at University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) and ProMedica Health System (PHS) after joining UT in 2009. His program focuses on study of the pathophysiology of PTSD development after trauma. Ongoing projects examine contributions of pre-trauma genetics, childhood adversity, mild traumatic brain injury, and post-trauma maladaptive brain changes to PTSD. Dr. Wang is constantly improving analytical approaches to integrate multiple models of MRI images, symptoms, and genetic profiles for study of PTSD. 

Dr.Wang’s research program utilizes productive collaborations with recognized scientists in related fields, and with internal UT experts in different specialties. External experts from the University of Michigan Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and fMRI Laboratory, Case Western Reserve University Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina Emergency Department, and Ohio State University Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are actively involved in Dr. Wang’s trauma research at Toledo. Dr. Wang also actively collaborates with other researchers from UT, including faculty in Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, Psychology, Radiology, Trauma Surgery, Family Medicine, Neurosciences, and Neurosurgery, and from ProMedica Health System ED and Trauma Service. 

Dr. Wang’s research program is supported by the MRI facility in the UT Department of Radiology, which provides access to the MRI scanner at reduced cost. Recent upgrades havebeen done on the 3T scanner used in the planned research. UT commitment to the PI is demonstrated by salary support, start-up funds, computers, laboratory, office space, and recent promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor rank. ProMedica Health System’s commitment to developing the PI’s trauma research program is demonstrated by use of clinical staff and a $25,000 Translational Research Stimulation Award in 2011 that supported preliminary work for this proposal. Both institutes provide research space in ED and trauma units, IT support, clerical support, and administrative support.

Elissar Andari Lab - Autism & Social Affective Neuroscience (ASAN)

Dr. AndariThe lab is studying the neurobiological correlates of social deficits in autism spectrum disorder and other psychiatric disorders. At ASAN, we are adopting a multimodal approach combining behavioral neuroscience, epigenetics and neuroimaging to uncover the nature of social deficits. We are also using machine learning approaches to determine biotypes of autism that are biologically relevant and that can respond best to selective treatments. Our lab focuses on using translational and clinical approaches to investigate new potential pharmacological treatments for deficits in social cognition.

  1. Autism Biotyping 
  2. Therapeutics for Autism 
  3. Translational research
  4. Increase risk for psychiatric disorders: child maltreatment

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Posters and Manuscripts

Current Research Projects

Faculty Member Sponsor Grant Title and Description

PI: Xin Wang, MD, PhD

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending (CPF/CDS)

Description: This grant provides sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment such as, MRI compatible electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These equipment will become the core of the new MRI research center for social determinants of health at UToledo.

PI: Xin Wang, MD, PhD

Co-I’s:   Tian Chen, Chia Hao Shih, PhD, Hong Xie, PhD,  Kevin Shuai Xu

National Institute of Mental Health

A large sample machine learning network analysis of vertex cortical thickness measures for high resolution definition of PTSD related cortical structure abnormalities

Description: This study is to develop a novel integrated analysis to identify regional and global abnormalities of brain cortical thickness in PTSD patients using a large dataset of more than ten thousand subjects in a global consortium.

PI: Michele Knox, PhD


Engaging Fathers in Cross-Cutting Violence Prevention: A Dual Generation Evaluation of the ACT Raising Safe Kids Program to Prevent Multiple Forms of Violence

Description: The ACT Raising Safe Kids (ACT) program was developed by the American Psychological Association and identified in the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s technical package (“Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect”) as a promising strategy to prevent child maltreatment. Evidence suggests the ACT program reduces coercive, harsh, and physically aggressive parenting practices; increases positive, nurturing parenting practices; and reduces children’s externalizing, aggressive, bullying behavior. The overall goal of the proposed project is to determine the efficacy of the ACT program to prevent multiple forms of violence by male caregivers and their children over time.

PI: Hong Xie, PhD

Co-I’s: Xin Wang, MD, PhD, Jon Elhai, PhD, Chia Hao Shih, PhD

National Institute of Mental Health

Using pre-pandemic baseline data in people with and without PTSD to study effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and brain emotion circuits

Description: This study examines the COVID-19 pandemic effects on the research participants of pre-pandemic studies by comparing the data collection before and during the pandemic.

PI: Scott Pappada

Co-I’s: Cheryl McCullumsmith, MD, PhD Tanvir Singh, MD Brent Cameron, MD, Joan Duggan, MD

Ohio Department of Higher Education

Prediction of Relapse in Opioid Addiction via a Novel Wearable Technology (PreLapse) 

PI: Michele Knox, Ph.D.

Multiple Sponsors

ACT Program Evaluation

Description: This study examines the effectiveness of the ACT Raising Safe Kids program at various sites in and outside the U.S.

PI: Michele Knox, Ph.D.

Eileen Quinn, MD and Morgan Dynes, Ph.D.


Effectiveness of Medical Student Training in Child Advocacy

Description: This study examines the effectiveness of educational interventions in preparing future physicians (medical students and residents) to address physical punishment of children and child maltreatment

PI: Elissar Andari, Ph.D.

ProMedica Health System

Autism and Social Neuroscience

Description:  The goal is to develop an autism program in Toledo area to investigate the nature of behavioral and brain dysfunctions in autism and to target new treatments within a precision medicine approach. We are using new behavioral and brain function technology to unravel different biotypes within Autism Spectrum Disorders. By using a multimodal approach (behavioral, neuroimaging, genetics and machine learning, transdiagnostics and multigenerational work), we can move the autism field forward and find optimal future treatments.

PI: Elissar Andari, Ph.D.

University of Toledo Foundation

Adjunctive Therapeutic Potential of Oxytocin for COVID-19 (OxyCovid project)

Description: The goal of this project is study the role of oxytocin, a neuropeptide known for its role in social attachment, in a coronavirus infectious disease. We are currently conducting a translational study in collaboration with the Neurosciences and Immunology Departments to examine the safety and potential efficacy of this treatment. Also, thanks to this grant, we are also investigating the mechanisms of action of oxytocin in infectious disease, a new field of investigation

Past Research Projects

Faculty Member Sponsor Grant Title and Description

PI: Xin Wang, M.D., Ph.D.

Co-I’s:  Kristopher Brickman, M.D., Mark Buehler, Jon Elhai, Ph.D., Xie Hong, Ph.D., Kevin Shuai

Primary Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

Secondary Sponsor: National Institute of Mental Health

Study of early brain alterations that predict development of chronic PTSD

Description: This study explores the risk factors for PTSD development in the early post traumatic period in order to design effective approaches to prevent PTSD. The trauma (e.g., motor vehicle accident) survivors are examined using psychological questionnaires and MRI techniques. Patient’s psychological conditions, as well as brain functions and structures, in the days to weeks after trauma are used to predict the PTSD symptoms in the long-term. 


PI: Jianyang Du, Ph.D. U of Tennessee

Co-I and Univ of Toledo Site PI: Xin Wang, M.D., Ph.D.

National Institutes of Health

Subcontract from: University of Tennessee

CO2 Inhalation enhances the lability of fear memory 

Description: Elucidate how protons, functioning as neurotransmitters, regulate fear circuits. The proposed work will determine how protons and ASICs regulate the lability of fear memories to yield memory modification.

Last Updated: 12/22/23