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Dr. Sam McLean smiles at the camera. He has white hair and is wearing a white collared shift, Carolina blue tie, and black blazer.

UNC, Department of Defense testing stress-coping method for military members

October 29, 2023 ● 2-minute video ● UNC’s Institute for Trauma Recovery is teaming up with federal defense officials to test a method for dealing with stress and mental health challenges.

Dr. Sam McLean smiles at the camera. He has white hair and is wearing a white collared shift, Carolina blue tie, and black blazer.

UNC Awarded $5 million to Assess Intervention for Acute Stress Reaction

October 18, 2023 ● 4-minute read ● The newly-funded initiative will test the efficacy of an intervention developed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research originally designed to help service members who experience acute stress reactions during military operations.

Dr. Laura Straus smiles. She is wearing black-framed glasses and a black and beige striped shirt.

Identifying Pain, Sleep, Anxiety Biomarkers Related to Post-traumatic Stress with Technology

January 13, 2023 ● 2-minute read ● Based on the identified biomarkers, it was possible to distinguish patients with a good predictive value for pain, sleep, and anxiety.

Wearable Device-Detected Biomarkers Could ID Symptoms After Trauma

January 13, 2023 ● 2-minute read ● Changes in the number of transitions between sleep and wake over time linked to changes in pain, sleep, anxiety.


Dr. Sam McLean smiles at the camera. He has white hair and is wearing a white collared shift, Carolina blue tie, and black blazer.

UNC School of Medicine Awarded $3 Million to Lead Study to Reduce PTSD Frequency, Severity

October 6, 2022 ● 2-minute read ● Led by Sam McLean, MD, MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers and collaborators were awarded $3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate the efficacy of a therapeutic agent to reduce the frequency and severity of acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Sam McLean smiles at the camera. He has white hair and is wearing a white collared shift, Carolina blue tie, and black blazer.

UNC-led Initiative Set to Gain Insights to Improve Posttraumatic Outcomes

September 29, 2022 ● 3-minute read ● The $8-million dollar DISENTANGLE initiative, led by Sam McLean, MD, MPH, at the UNC School of Medicine and funded through the U.S. Department of Defense, will leverage the latest data on brain injury biomarkers and clinical observations to prevent and treat sever posttraumatic symptoms.

UNC Health: Specific Brain Responses to Traumatic Stress Linked to PTSD Risk

July 26, 2022 ● 3-minute read ● Led by Temple University scientists and involving a national collaboration among researchers, a new study shows how decreased hippocampus engagement is associated with the development of posttraumatic stress disorder. Sam McLean, MD, MPH, leads the NIH-funded AURORA study.

Contemporary Clinic: Dissociation Predicts Worse Mental Health Outcomes After Trauma

July 7, 2022 ● 2-minute read ● Read how the presence of dissociation and derealization may indicate high risk for PTSD and altered activity in the brain following a traumatic event, as well as how the AURORA Study can help us understand treatment and prevention.

One Mind

One Mind: Sam McLean, MD, MPH speaks about the AURORA study on trauma

June 29, 2022 ● 2-minute video ● Hear Dr. Samuel McLean, organizing Principal Investigator of the One Mind-funded AURORA Study, describe Lauren Lebois, PhD et al.’s latest findings about trauma and derealization.

Science Daily: Feelings of Detachment Predict Worse Mental Health Outcomes after Trauma

June 22, 2022 ● 2-minute read ● Following trauma, feeling detached from one’s surroundings may suggest a higher risk of later developing serious mental health conditions. It’s important to screen for feeling detached to identify patients who might benefit from preventive care.

Dr. Sarah Linnstaedt smiles at the camera. She has straight, shoulder-length, light-brown hair and is wearing a purple cardigan.

Scientific Reports: Hippocampal volume, FKBP5 genetic risk alleles, and childhood trauma interact to increase vulnerability to chronic multisite musculoskeletal pain

April 20, 2022 ● 17-minute read ● Get full access to Dr. Sarah Linnstaedt’s Scientific Reports article on gene variations and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

The letters "PT" are in a bold, white, sans-serif font and pop against a bright turquois background.

Psychology Today: Can Brain Function Predict Future Risk for Psychological Distress

March 16, 2022 ● 3-minute read ● Most Americans will experience a traumatic event, and PTSD is a common reaction. Read how we can research brain-based biotypes through neuroimaging to help understand the future risk of these reactions.


UNC Health: Brain Activity Patterns after Trauma May Predict Long-Term Mental Health

October 26, 2021 ● 3-minute read ● This Emory-led study shows a link between post-trauma brain activity and symptoms of anxiety and PTSD six months later. It is part of the AURORA study, led nationally by Sam McLean, MD, at the UNC School of Medicine.

CNN Health: Post-COVID PTSD: the storm after the storm

April 2, 2021 ● 6-minute read ● Severe, long-COVID patients can easily develop PTSD. Read how the Heroes Health app can connect patients to health care workers and improve symptoms.


UNC Health Foundation Impact Series: Mental Health Resources

September 10, 2020 ● 1-hour video ● UNC Health Drs. Cristy Page, Samantha Meltzer-Brody and Samuel McLean joined One Mind president Brandon Staglin, MS, to discuss resources available to help healthcare workers and community members deal with mental health challenges during the pandemic.

Emergency Room entrance

Forbes: A Digital Tool To Assess Mental Health Is Being Piloted For Emergency Physicians

August 21, 2020 ● 3-minunte read ● This initiative is a part of a growing trend in medicine, as healthcare and policy leaders are recognizing increasing levels of physician burnout and barriers to well-being.

Dr. Sam McLean, the leader of the Heroes Health Initiative,

Doctor Who Survived COVID-19 Creates App to Help Medical Workers Monitor Mental Health

July 18, 2020 ● 5-minute video ● Emergency room physician and Heroes Health app founder, Dr. Sam McLean, joins “America’s News HQ” to discuss the unique mental health burden that COVID-19 has posed for healthcare workers and first responders and how the Heroes Health app can help.

A large banner reads "Heroes Work Here"

UNC Launches Mental Health App ‘Heroes Health’ to Support Frontline Workers

July 16, 2020 ● 2-minute video ● One UNC physician founded a new health initiative and app after seeing a need for increased mental health support in the medical field.

Dr. Sam McLean, the leader of the Heroes Health Initiative, smiles on video interview with The Today Show

The Today Show: Doctor Creates App to Give Mental Health Support to Front-line Workers

July 14, 2020 ● 6-minute video ● The Today Show features Dr. Sam McLean, an emergency physician at University of North Carolina, explaining how the Heroes Health Initiative offers health care workers access to mental health assessments and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heroes Health Initiative logo, a heart growing from a green stem, is centered in a mint green background. A cardiograph runs along the center of the image.

Google Cloud: Caring for caregivers: UNC’s Heroes Health Initiative supports healthcare workers’ mental health

July 14, 2020 ● 3-minute read ● The mental health of first responders and healthcare workers is critically important, especially as they face increased stress related to COVID-19. We are proud to support these frontline workers through the Heroes Health app.

Three screenshots from UNC's Heroes Health app: This leftmost is of a question about the user's comfort with the level of PPE supplies at their workplace. The middle screenshot is of an in-app mental health report. The rightmost is of an in-app resources page.

Obi Felten: Asking for help and saying “Yes”​ in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic

July 14, 2020 ● 8-minute read ● What Obi Felten, head of X, learned while working on Heroes Health, a new initiative to support the mental health of COVID-19 front line health care workers and first responders.

WPTF: News Radio 680, Talk Radio 850

WPTF Interviews Dr. Samuel McLean about the Heroes Health App

July 14, 2020 ● 8-minute listen ● How Dr. McLean conceived of the idea to develop the Heroes Health Initiative.

The Heroes Health welcome screen is shown during a live television demonstration.

CBS 17: UNC doctor, after recovering from COVID-19, creates app to help health care workers with mental health

July 14, 2020 ● 2-minute video ● A doctor at UNC who recovered from COVID-19 is back to work not only to heal patients but also to help his fellow healthcare workers. He’s created an app to help healthcare workers and first responders monitor their mental health and find support.

Individual in full PPE looks into a microscope

WRAL: UNC doctor who beat COVID-19 creates app to help frontline workers deal with pandemic

July 14, 2020 ● 2-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean knows firsthand the great challenges COVID-19 workers are facing day in and day out.

Exhausted doctor wears protective suit to prevent COVID-19

VentureBeat: Backed by Google, Heroes Health app tracks mental wellbeing of frontline workers

July 14, 2020 ● 3-minute read ● Researchers and clinicians enlisted Google’s help to build a mobile app that helps frontline health care workers monitor their mental well-being and seek help if indicated.

Screen reading "Welcome to Heroes Health" with a green button reading "sign in".

BusinessWire: “Heroes Health” Mental Wellness App Launched by UNC School of Medicine

July 14, 2020 ● 7-minute read ● The app is available through the App Store and Google Play Store in the United States, free of charge to first responders, healthcare workers, and their organizations.

A healthcare worker wearing a disposable mask looks down. A tear or drop of sweat falls the corner of her eye.

COVID-19 Presents a Public Mental Health Emergency

June 5, 2020 ● 2-minute read ● Healthcare workers are experiencing heightened anxiety and depression from the COVID-19 pandemic. How we respond matters.

A team of 5 UNC Health employees, all wearing scrubs and disposable masks, stand or kneel feet apart from one another while forming heart symbols with their hands.

Protecting COVID-19 Workers’ Mental Health

April 3, 2020 ● 5-minute read ● Dr. Sam McLean and Dr. Christopher Jones reflect on their experiences as frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Illustration by Paddy Mills depicting a feminine person and a masculine person reacting differently to knee pain.

Nature: Blocking a Stress-Related Gene Relieves Chronic Pain

March 27, 2019 ● 3-minute read ● After decades of assuming that pain processing is equivalent in all sexes, scientists are finding that different biological pathways can produce an ‘ouch!’.

The red silhouette of a woman sitting pulses in pink and purple, suggesting that she is in pain

The Scientist: Blocking a Stress-Related Gene Relieves Chronic Pain

February 6, 2019 ● 3-minute read ● Innovative ways to measure, understand and treat pain are allowing doctors to ease patients’ suffering—without relying on dangerous drugs.

Lauren Gullett smiles at the camera. She wears a denim jacket over a black T-shirt. Her hair is braided and she sports hoop earrings.

“Carolina Stories”: The Scholar Success

February 5, 2019 ● 2-minute read ● Lauren Gullett shares the experiences that brought her to her undergraduate research assistantship at the Institute for Trauma Recovery.


UNC Health

UNC “Vital Signs”: Researchers Receive $5 Million to Expand Study of Posttraumatic Neurologic, Mental Health Disorders

September 27, 2018 ● 3-minute read ● Led by Dr. Samuel McLean, UNC School of Medicine researchers and collaborators received $5 million from the NIH and Department of Defense to expanding the AURORA Study, the most comprehensive longitudinal study of trauma survivors ever performed.

UNDARK: How A Gene Variant May Influence Chronic Pain After Trauma

September 4, 2018 ● 4-minute read ● Individual genetic variation may determine whether someone who experienced a traumatic event will develop chronic pain or recover successfully.

Three paramedics prepare to lift a car accident survivors into an ambulance using a stretcher.

NIH Director’s Blog: Researchers Elucidate Role of Stress Gene in Chronic Pain

September 4, 2018 ● 6-minute read ● Dr. Francis Collins discusses Drs. Samuel McLean and Sarah Linnstaedt’s recent article in the Journal of Neuroscience on his NIH Director’s Blog.

The Conversation: Chronic pain after trauma may depend on what stress gene variation you carry

August 27, 2018 ● 4-minute read ● Dr. Sarah Linnstaedt discusses how genetic variations in the FKBP5 gene can cause differences in chronic pain following a traumatic event.

Daily Mail

Daily Mail: How long you hurt after a traumatic injury depends [in part] on your DNA, study finds

August 27, 2018 ● 5-minute read ● A new study has found that a DNA mutation is associated with increased pain after experiencing trauma, such as sexual assault or a car crash.

A line art graphic in pink and muted brown shades depicts a patient speaking with her therapist.

NIH “News in Health”: Dealing with Trauma: Recovering from Frightening Events

June 2018 ● 6-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean describes how findings from the AURORA Study will improve PTSD diagnostics.

A phone with a red screen displays the words: "Search. Post. Reblog. Unfriend. Share. Like." The words are arranged vertically with the letters spelling "at risk" in bold black print.

New York Times: How Companies Scour Our Digital Lives for Clues to Our Health

February 25, 2018 ● 8-minute read ● An emerging field, digital phenotyping, tries to assess people’s well-being based on their interactions with digital devices.


One Mind

One Mind: Brain Changes in Response to a Life Threat

September 18, 2017 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean, Director, University of North Carolina Institute of Trauma Recovery and Organizing Principal Investigator for the AURORA Study shares how the brain changes in response to a stressful, traumatic event. Filmed at the Scientific Symposium of One Mind’s 2017 Music Festival for Brain Health.

One Mind

Business Wire: Staglin Family Announces Over 280 Million Dollars Raised to Date

September 18, 2017 ● 3-minute read ● The Staglin family and the ONE MIND Board of Directors announced that the 23-year cumulative total, including direct contributions and leveraged funds provided to scientists as a result of initial research funding from festival proceeds, has surpassed $280 million dollars since 1995.

Verily: Researching post-traumatic conditions with Study Watch

July 17, 2017 ● 2-minute read ● Verily is excited to join the University of North Carolina- and Harvard-led AURORA Study, a groundbreaking five-year observational study of 5,000 individuals experiencing trauma, as a research partner.

PBS News Hour: Can science make diagnosing PTSD less of an ordeal?

March 30, 2017 ● 3-minute read ● Special correspondent Soledad O’Brien reports on the difficulties patients can face when physicians struggle to accurately identify their condition.

Pain Research Forum: Young Investigator Spotlight: Sarah Linnstaedt

February 28, 2017 ● 11-minute read ● Dr. Sarah Linnstaedt discusses how she came to the field of pain research, her microRNA studies, and what it has been like as a young investigator to set up her own lab.


Carolina Alumni Review: UNC Will Take Lead in Major Posttraumatic Stress Study

October 25, 2016 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses plans for the $21 million AURORA Study.

The Scientist: Blocking a Stress-Related Gene Relieves Chronic Pain

February 10, 2016 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean is interviewed regarding a previous publication by the research group.


EurekAlert: Gene Variants Involved in Stress Responses affect ‘Post-concussive’ Symptoms

November 24, 2015 ● 5-minute read ● Variations in a gene that affect the body’s responses to stress influence the risk of developing post-concussive symptoms (PCS) after car crashes.


Practical Pain Management: Does Emotional Recovery After Accidents Influence Chronic Pain?

June 6, 2014 ● 4-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean and Jackie Nichols discuss research results linking emotional and psychological state with recovery time after a motor vehicle accident.

MedPage Today: Treat Car Crash Pain Early On, Lest It Linger

May 5, 2014 ● 3-minute read ● June Hu discusses research pertaining to widespread pain being treated early on as opposed to waiting for pain to resolve itself. Originally referenced from “Most widespread pain present 1 year after motor vehicle collision (MVC) begins in the early aftermath of the MVC: Results of a multicenter prospective cohort study” which Hu presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Pain Society 2014 in Tampa, FL.

MedPage Today: BMI Predicts Neck Pain After Car Crash

May 5, 2014 ● 3-minute read ● Ana Bermudez discusses findings in relation to BMI and neck pain for overweight individuals 6 weeks to 1 year after a motor vehicle accident. Referenced from “Obesity increases the risk of persistent moderate or severe neck pain 6 months after motor vehicle collision”.

MedPage Today: BMI Predicts Neck Pain After Car Crash

January 23, 2014 ● 2-minute read ● Only 17 percent of drivers with hurt necks or other body parts had contacted a lawyer within six weeks.


NPR: Severe Persistent Pain after Sexual Assault Often Untreated

October 2, 2013 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses new discoveries in chronic pain on the NPR radio show “The State of Things”.  Joining Dr. McLean is Mrs. Hortense Jacobs, a patient in the UNC Department of Anesthesiology Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic.

Medscape: Severe Persistent Pain after Sexual Assault Often Untreated

May 13, 2013 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses the lack of medical treatment for pain after sexual assault. Results are from a pilot study of sexual assault survivors.

Newswise: Persistent Pain After Stressful Events May Have a Neurobiological Basis

May 2, 2013 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses findings that indicate that mechanisms influencing chronic pain development may be related to the stress response, rather than any specific injury caused by the traumatic event


Medical News Today: Severe Pain Not Treated in Victims of Sexual Assault

September 12, 2012 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses that despite the fact that the majority of women presenting to emergency departments for care after sexual assault experience severe pain, very few receive pain treatment.

HealthDay: Pain Level after Car Crash Could Depend on Your Genes, Studies Say

October 16, 2012 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Samuel McLean discusses early new research that suggests the amount and severity of pain that you experience after an automobile accident may depend on your genes. Research is from two studies based on data collected from 948 adult car accident victims.


UNC Anesthesiology: Opioid Gene Variants Linked to Cancer Survival in Women

December 2011 ● 3-minute read ● Dr. Andrey Bortsov explains an association found between the opioid receptor gene polymorphism A118G and breast cancer survival in a population-based study of 2,039 women.

New York Times: Disparities: In the E.R., the Elderly Get Less Pain Relief

November 22, 2011 ● 1-minute read ● Dr. Timothy Platts-Mills, a faculty member in the TRYUMPH Research Program and Emergency Medicine physician at UNC, describes evidence that elderly individuals are significantly less likely to receive pain medication in a 7-year nationwide study of emergency room patient data.