My research interests have two central themes that complement one another by focusing on basic and clinical research on the neurobiology of aggression. The overall goal of my basic science research is to characterize the relative strengths of the different neural systems that modulate offensive aggression and determine how pharmacological influences (e.g. drugs of abuse, such as anabolic steroids and cocaine) and social stress and alter the development — thus the strength — of these neural units, effectively altering the expression of the aggressive phenotype.
My clinical-research focus consists of classifying aggression in a cohort of highly aggressive youths, then identifying and characterizing novel biological markers of aggressive behavior in this same population. Unfortunately, psychiatry has not yet been able to benefit from advances in the neurobiological study of aggression in animal models because of a lack of cross-disciplinary and collaborative clinical and basic research. This combined approach to the study of aggressive behavior fosters collaborative research in this important arena and is a necessary first step in the eventual development of more scientifically based clinical and pharmacological treatment plans for aggression.