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Carla Danielson Ph.D.

Carla Kmett Danielson Ph.D.

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  • Professor
  • College of Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Academic Focus
  • Adolescent traumatic stress
  • Adolescent substance use and risky sexual behaviors
  • Developmental psychopathology of anxiety, depression, and substance use problems following trauma


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Broadly, Dr. Danielson's research interests focus on treatment and prevention with high-risk adolescent and traditionally underserved populations, including basic and translational science studies that inform applied clinical research. Her particular areas of research and clinical expertise are in: 1) evaluating and disseminating integrated treatments for comorbid PTSD and substance use problems, as well as HIV sexual risk behaviors, among trauma-exposed adolescents, and 2) understanding the pathways from trauma and stress exposure to mental health problems. Dr. Danielson has been continuously extramurally funded (e.g., NIDA, NIMH, NIAAA, Brain & Behavior Foundation, SAMHSA) as an MUSC faculty member. Her studies include randomized controlled trials (RCTs), assessment and lab-based studies that focus on biomarkers and mechanisms underlying the etiology of PTSD, addiction, and other psychopathology among trauma-exposed young people (e.g., current NIMH R01 examining threat-related negative valence systems, child victimization, and anxiety), and mixed methods investigations related to m-Health intervention development and evaluation. Of note, Dr. Danielson is the developer of Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT), an exposure-based integrative treatment for comorbid PTSD symptoms and substance use problems among adolescents with published RCT support (Danielson et al., 2012). She is currently leading a NIDA R01-funded large scale RCT evaluation of RRFT. She is the Founding Director of the EMPOWERR Program, which is dedicated to reducing HIV infection and substance use among local at-risk youth. Dr. Danielson is PI on a NIDA K24 (Mentorship and Research in HIV and Addiction Prevention among Traumatized Youth) and an NIMH T32 (Basic and Translational Research Training on Traumatic Stress Across the Lifespan)--and serves as a dedicated mentor to early stage investigators, post-doctoral fellows, psychology interns, and medical residents and students. Dr. Danielson serves as Co-Chair of the Faculty Development Committee for the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.