Kathryn R Hefner


Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Research Psychologist
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
PTSD, substance use and addiction, trauma, military and veteran health, comorbidity
Office Phone


PhD, Clinical Psychology - University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
MS, Clinical Psychology - University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
BA, Clinical and Social Psychology - University of Rochester, 2005


Dr. Kathryn R. Hefner is a Research Psychologist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress of the Uniformed Services University. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Clinical and Social Psychology at the University of Rochester, she completed a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in behavioral neuroscience and genetics. Dr. Hefner then completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she used psychophysiological and behavioral methods to study neuroadaptive changes in affective and reward brain pathways associated with substance use and addiction. She completed her clinical psychology internship at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, and an Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry and VA Connecticut Healthcare Center’s Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (MIRECC) in addiction and dual diagnosis. Trained in cognitive-behavioral and dialectical behavior therapy, Dr. Hefner has worked clinically with military veterans and civilians with a wide array of conditions including PTSD, substance use, complicated grief, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and chronic pain, and in a variety of outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities. In 2016, she received her Psychology License from the State of Rhode Island.

Dr. Hefner’s research background and clinical work with dually diagnosed individuals has shaped her focus the mechanisms (e.g., trauma, substance use, stress) that contribute to alterations in negative affective responses and decision-making. In addition, her recent work has focused on clinical epidemiology and multimorbidity associated with PTSD, which is known to co-occur with many additional psychiatric, substance use, medical, and other conditions. This work aims to identify underlying vulnerability factors and correlates associated with risk and resilience for PTSD. Currently, Dr. Hefner is working on several projects investigating correlates and predictors of negative affective outcomes (anxiety, depression, complicated grief, PTSD, etc.) among family members of deceased and injured military service members and victims of terrorism.

Dr. Hefner has authored and co-authored several scientific papers and has been awarded several research grants, including a National Research Service Award (NRSA) from NIDA, as well as many awards for conference presentations and travel.