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Dr. Denise Hien

Center Director and Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology

Office: SMH 221B

Email: denise.hien@smithers.rutgers.edu

Phone: 848-445-0749

Curriculum Vitae:

  • Bio
  • Current Research
  • Grants
  • Selected Publications
  • Other Information


Denise Hien, Ph.D., ABPP, is the Director of CAS, and Professor in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) at Rutgers University. Recognized as a leader in the field of post-traumatic stress and addictions, her body of work has contributed to the evidence base on effective interventions for individuals with PTSD and substance use disorders. She and her group have conducted programmatic research through single- and multi-site clinical trials across the United States in community-based substance abuse treatment settings, with continuous funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) (20 grants total: 7 R01, 1-R25, 1 multi-site) for over 20 years.  She currently leads an NIDA R25 training grant for translational addiction research for racial/ethnic minority BS/MD, MA and PhD candidates in the biomedical and social sciences, and a new NIAAA R01, a meta-analysis with individual patient data examining effectiveness of treatment for PTSD and AODs. She is board-certified in clinical psychology and has served as a standing and ad hoc member on NIDA, NIAAA and NIMH Institutional Review Groups, and a health disparities advisory group to the Director of NIDA on Asian/Pacific Islander issues. Dr. Hien hopes to increase the center’s visibility in shaping the national conversation about traumatic stress and its’ role in the development and maintenance of alcohol and other substance use disorders.

Dr. Hien received her B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University, and her M.S., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her postdoctoral training in substance use research at the Division on Substance Use Disorders at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she has retained a longstanding appointment, now as Adjunct Senior Research Scientist. Over her career, she has served on the doctoral faculties of the Derner School of Psychology at Adelphi University, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and The City College of New York. Within each of these institutions, she has held numerous leadership roles in academic and research administration.

Current Research

For a complete list, see https://alcoholstudies.rutgers.edu/research/tap-lab-trauma-and-addiction-project-lab/

Project Harmony: A virtual clinical trial and meta-analysis with individual patient data for PTSD and Alcohol and Other Drug Use Disorders.

PTSD and AOD are frequently co-occurring disorders. Individually, they each pose significant public health problems, which are substantially exacerbated by their comorbidity. The PTSD/AOD VCT study is a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded integrative data analysis project that will synthesize disparate data from 50 existing PTSD and alcohol and other drug disorders (AOD) treatment studies (resulting in a total of 4,544 study participants) to examine the relative efficacy of different AOD/PTSD treatments. Led by a team of experts in PTSD/AOD treatment and clinical trials from Rutgers Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies (Hien (MPI) & Ruglass), RTI International (Morgan-Lopez (MPI) & Saavedra), Medical University of South Carolina (Back, Brady & Killeen) & Columbia University (Campbell), the VCT study will use three novel and sophisticated data analytic approaches- meta-analysis of individual patient data, integrative data analysis, and propensity score weighting- to provide clear and definitive recommendations regarding which PTSD/AOD treatments are optimally effective. It will also indicate who is more or less likely to benefit from specific treatments, and whether the mechanisms of change in these treatments are similar or distinct. See Project Harmony website: https://projectharmonyvct.com for more details.

Opioid IRG TRAUMA Study: Developing a Trauma-Informed App for Female Opioid Users Receiving Medication Assisted Treatment

This study is funded by the Opioid Interdisciplinary Research Group, Institute of Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. There is a major public health need to address the high levels of traumatic stress symptoms among female opioid users. The growth in numbers of female opioid users has contributed to America’s opioid epidemic, and research shows that women are more likely to use opioids to manage the symptoms they experience from trauma. This pilot study will inform development of a larger NIH grant, which will focus on tailoring a trauma-informed app and assess its implementation in community clinics for female opioid users. Qualitative interviews with 15 women on MAT (medication assisted treatment) and 8 providers are aimed to inform the development of a technology-based intervention adjunctive to MAT. A technology application addressing the trauma symptoms of these women would be used in conjunction with their primary care treatment. Collaborators include colleagues Drs. Padma Arvind, Mary-Catherine Bohan, Aimee Campbell, Suchismita Ray, Tanya Saraiya, and Margaret Swarbrick at Rutgers’ University Behavioral Health Care-Specialized Addiction Treatment Services (SATS) and Wei Ji Point programs, the School of Management and Labor Relations, and the School of Health Professionals.

Reading Faces: Social Cognition and PTSD

Our prior work (Social SCAN) found that individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) perceive facial stimuli as more trustworthy in comparison to trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD (Fertuck et al., 2016). Reading Faces extends this work by investigating the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying trustworthiness perception among three groups: individuals with high posttraumatic symptoms, low posttraumatic symptoms, and individuals with no history of trauma exposure. A second aim of the Reading Faces project is to test the efficacy of an attentional learning task: can disruptions in social cognition related to PTSD improve with attentional training?  While electroencephalography (EEG) is being recorded, participants in the laboratory rate faces and then complete an attentional training task.

Social Emotions in co-occurring PTSD and alcohol misuse

PTSD and alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder co-occur at significantly high rates. Current treatments targeting PTSD with co-occurring alcohol misuse have primarily focused on extinguishing the feeling of fear associated with trauma and reducing the activation of the reward pathway in alcohol misuse. But the efficacy of these treatments have proven to be limited; active and control conditions often show similar outcomes. Social emotions—specifically the feelings of shame and guilt —have been identified as emotions prevalent in both PTSD and alcohol misuse. Unlike fear and disgust, social emotions arise from interpersonal contexts and require self-referential thinking. This project investigates the behavioral and neural mechanism of shame and guilt in a sample of individuals with comorbid PTSD and hazardous drinking.  In a a laboratory session, we look at whether shame and guilt increases alcohol craving and posttraumatic symptoms while using EEG to identify neural signatures for shame and guilt.

Mobile Mindfulness: Smartphone-based meditation training for enhanced cognition and emotion regulation

Research has shown that face-to-face mindfulness meditation has a positive impact on physical and psychological health. The Mobile Mindfulness project examines whether a smartphone-based mindfulness training (SBMT) can result in similar benefits. This projects collects neural, behavioral, physiological, and subjective report data to help us understand how meditation helps us change how we feel, think, and respond. A second aim of this project is to pilot SBMT with individuals who report trauma-related distress and risky drinking. After screening for a good study fit, participants download a SBMT app onto their personal smartphone and use the app for 30 days. During the 30 days, participants complete one guided meditation daily. Before and after the 30-day period, participants attend an EEG laboratory session with attentional and cognitive exercises.

TRACC Program

TRACC (Translational Research Training in Addictions for Racial/Ethnic Minorities at the City College of New York and Columbia University Medical Center) aims to increase the number of scientists from underrepresented minority groups conducting translational addiction research. According to a 2011 article in Science, a low percentage of minority scientists achieve success in research award funding despite years of field-wide diversification efforts. Additionally, as the field of translational neuroscience continues to expand, the numbers of qualified minority scientists with interdisciplinary training lags behind. TRACC addresses these gaps by reaching earlier into the career development pipeline to identify and actively facilitate the professional success of the most talented minority students. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded $1.5 million to support TRACC’s mission. TRACC capitalizes on CCNY’s exceptional pool of diverse students, its renowned multidisciplinary faculty and a novel collaboration with substance use researchers at CUMC. TRACC will train 20 researchers over the next five years. Trainees will be selected from a pool of faculty-nominated CCNY graduate psychology students plus students in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education’s BS/MD program. An initial cohort of four will begin training in the spring of 2014.


Active Support (see CV for past support):

2013-2019 Principal Investigator, Translational Research Training in Addictions at City College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (TRACC) (MPI: Dr. Lesia M. Ruglass, Co-I’s: Frances R. Levin, M.D., Robert Melara, Ph.D., Mauricio Trevisan, M.D.), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) R25, Total Direct and Indirect Costs 1.9 Million.
2016-2019 Principal Investigator, “Derner Hempstead Training Clinic and Outcomes” (Co-PI: Jonathan Jackson, Ph.D.), FAR Fund, Total Direct and Indirect Costs $153,000.
2017-2022 Co-Investigator, “Using the Strategic Prevention Framework to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking and Drug Use” (PI-Robert Melara, Ph.D.) New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Total and Direct Costs, $500,000.
2017-2022 Consultant, “Global Evaluation & Applied Research Solutions (GEARS) Inc.” (PI: Diane Roberts, MA, President). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, IDIQ Grant.
2018-2022 Principal Investigator, “Meta-Analysis with Individual Patient Data for PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorders” (MPI: Antonio Morgan-Lopez, Ph.D.), National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIH) R01, Total Direct and Indirect Costs $2.75 Million.
2018-2019 Principal Investigator, “Developing a trauma-informed technology based psychosocial adjunct to MAT treatment for female opioid users in primary care: A formative study,” Institute of Health Policy, Office of Research and Economic Development, Rutgers University Institutional Research Grant, Total Direct and Indirect Costs, $20,000.
2018-2019 Principal Investigator, “Trauma related neurobiological predictors of adverse child outcomes: Secondary analysis of the health brain network database,” Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Collaborative Initiative Grant, Total Direct and Indirect Costs, $10,000.

Selected Publications

Selected Recent Publications (out of over 90: For a more complete list, see CV and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/denise.hien.1/bibliography/public/

Impact (as of May, 2019)

The ISI web of science citation report: 2226 citations, average 29 per article, h-index=24; googlescholar report: 4402 citations, h-index=33; researchgate report: 3001 citations, h-index=26. Number of citations exceeds 500 for a review I co-authored in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2007. Other journals where I published are also of high impact (e.g., American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics). Impact (including on the general public, but also in the criminal justice system) is also evident as further described below (invited talks, consulting activities).

Ruglass, LM, Espinosa, A, Sheyvorkin, A, Sykes, K, Dambreville, N, Nicholson, R, & Hien, DA. (2017). Direct and indirect effects of cumulative trauma, PTSD, and substance use disorder on probability of arrest among lower income African American and Latina women, Race and Justice. Advance online publication. (E-pub 2016 June 30).

Papini, S., Ruglass, L. M., Lopez-Castro, T., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A. J., Hien, DA. (2017).  Chronic cannabis use is associated with impaired fear extinction in humans. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 126 (1), 117-124. (E-pub 2016 Nov 3).

Ruglass, LM, Shevorykin, A, Radoncic, V, Galatzer-Levy, I, Zumberg, K, Smith, P & Hien, DA. (2017). Impact of cannabis use on PTSD + SUD outcomes, Journal of Clinical Medicine. 6(2), 14. (E-pub 2017 Feb 7).

Ruglass, LM, Papini, S, Lopez-Castro, T, Back, S, Killeen, T & Hien, DA. (2017). Concurrent treatment with prolonged exposure for co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders: A randomized clinical trial, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 86:150–161 (doi: 10.1159/000462977).

Rubin, M, Hien, DA, Dipanjana, D, & Melara, R. (2017). The role of spontaneous eye blinks in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Brain Sciences, 7(2). (doi:10.3390/brainsci7020016) PMID 28165364.

Campbell, ANC., Back, SE, Ostroff, JS, Hien, DA., Gourevitch, M, Sheffer, C, Brady, KT, Hanley, K, Bereket, S, & Book, S. (2017). Addiction Research Training Programs: Four Case Studies and Recommendations for Evaluation. Journal of Academic Medicine, 11(5), 333-338 (doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000328).

Ruglass, LM, Shevorkyin, A, Brezing, C, Hu, M & Hien, DA. (2017). Demographic and clinical characteristics of treatment seeking women with PTSD and concurrent cannabis and cocaine use disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 80, 45-51. (doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2017.06.007), PMID 28755772.

Hien, DA, Lopez-Castro, T, Papini, S, Gorman, B. & Ruglass, LM. (2017). Emotion dysregulation moderates the effect of cognitive behavior therapy with prolonged exposure for co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 52, 53-61.

Maru, M., Saraiya, T., Lee, C., Meghania, O., Hien, DA., & Hahm, H. (2018). The relationship between intimate partner violence and suicidal ideation among young Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese American women, Women and Therapy. 0:0, pp. 1-17 (doi:10.1080/02703149.2018.1430381).

Chao, T, Radoncic, V, Hien, DA, Bedi, G & Haney, M. (2018). Stress responding in cannabis smokers as a function of trauma exposure, sex, and relapse in the human laboratory. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 185, 23-32. (doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.11.021).

Melara, R, Ruglass, LM, Fertuck, E & Hien, DA. (2018). Regulation of threat in post-traumatic stress disorder: Associations between inhibitory control and dissociative symptoms. Biological Psychology, 133, 89-98. (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.01.017).

Melara, R, Singh, S, Hien, DA. (2018). Neural and behavioral correlates of attentional inhibition training and perceptual discrimination training in a visual flanker task. Frontiers in Neuroscience.(doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00191).

Hien, DA, Zumberg, K., Owens, M, Lopez-Castro, T, Ruglass, L, & Papini, S. (2018). Lagged effects of symptom change in a randomized controlled trial for PTSD and substance use disorders with modified prolonged exposure and relapse prevention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86 (10), 810-819, doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000345. NIHMS 984048, PMID 30265040.

Papini, SP, Rubin, M, Powers, MB, Smits, JA, Hien, DA. (2018). Pretreatment PTSD symptom network metrics predict the strength of the association between node change and network change during treatment, Journal of Traumatic Stress. https://doi.org: 10.1002/jts.22379

Saraiya, T., Zumberg, K., Campbell, A., & Hien, DA. (2019). Posttraumatic stress symptoms, shame, and substance use among Asian Americans, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 96, 1-11, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2018.10.002.

Lopez-Castro, T., Smith, K.Z., Nicholson, R.A., Armas, A. & Hien, D.A. (2019). Does a history of violent offending impact treatment response for comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders? A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 97, 47-58, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2018.11.009.

Other Information

Research Interests: Effects of trauma exposures and addiction on the mind and body; intergenerational trauma and the impact of parental history on child functioning; the role of threat-related cognitive processing in the development and maintenance of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and associated interpersonal impairments; efficacy of treatment interventions for co-occurring PTSD and addiction; psychophysiological (EEG) predictors of social emotions related to trauma and PTSD; multicultural/diversity barriers in mentoring in social sciences.

Expertise: Board Certification in Clinical Psychology (ABPP), 25 years in private practice working with traumatic stress and addiction related disorders, evidence-based assessment and treatment of PTSD and SUD, clinical supervisor and mentor, consulting for legal cases on physical and sexual abuse in the women’s prison population by prison guards. Licensed psychologist in New York State and New Jersey.