Dr. JoAnn Difede Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. JoAnn Difede

JoAnn Difede, Ph.D., is a Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, an Attending Psychologist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center where she has been a consultant to the Burn Center for over 25 years, and Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS).  She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work using virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD consequent to the WTC attack of September 11, 2001, and more recently in treatment of combat-related PTSD and burn pain. Dr. Difede has worked with collaborators to develop virtual reality simulations of several diverse traumas (WTC, combat-related PTSD, Hurricane Katrina, house fires). Dr. Difede is currently serving as PI of a multi-site Department of Defense funded clinical trial, “Enhancing Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Virtual Reality and Imaginal Exposure with a Cognitive Enhancer,” which is investigating how the use of virtual reality and the pharmacologic agent, d-cycloserine, may accelerate recovery from combat-related PTSD among U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Her treatment research involving virtual reality simulations spans survivors of burn injuries, terrorism, and occupations at-risk for PTSD, including U.S. soldiers deployed to OIF/OEF, firefighters, police officers, and disaster rescue and recovery workers. She is also currently lead investigator of a project using VR simulations as a distractor during painful medical procedures

In addition to her scholarly endeavors, Dr. Difede’s work has been featured in many popular media venues including the New Yorker, the NY Times, Newsweek and Scientific American as well as on many television programs including the Charlie Rose Show Brain Series, CNN, NBC and ABC’s World News Tonight.


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