Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology
UNC Hospitals – Chapel Hill
Education and Training:
B.A., History, Duke University
M.D., University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Fellowship, Neurobiology, University of North Carolina
Residency, Psychiatry, University of North Carolina Memorial Hospital
Dr. Pedersen’s research includes placebo-controlled RCTs testing the efficacy of intranasal oxytocin administration in schizophrenia and alcohol dependence. Two weeks of twice daily oxytocin treatment (but not placebo) significantly reduced psychotic symptoms and improved some social cognition deficits in patients with schizophrenia. Dr. Pedersen also found that three days of twice daily oxytocin treatment potently blocked withdrawal symptoms and markedly reduced the amount of PRN lorazepam required to complete medical detoxification in alcohol dependent patients admitted to a research unit. With NIMH funding, Dr. Pedersen and co-principal investigator (co-PI) Dr. David Penn are currently conducting a 12-week RCT testing the efficacy of intranasal oxytocin on improving psychotic symptoms, social cognition and social functioning in schizophrenia and schizoaffective patients. Drs. Pedersen and J. C. Garbutt (Co-PIs) are beginning a placebo-controlled RCT to test in alcohol dependent subjects whether intranasal oxytocin does indeed block withdrawal and decreases drinking behavior, craving and anxiety in the outpatient setting. They have a very good score on a R21 to further fund this research. Dr. Pedersen has completed a five year NIMH R01-funded project that has identified very strong negative correlations between late pregnancy free thyroxine (fT4) and TSH concentrations and pre and postpartum depression and anxiety scores. Mothers with lower range late pregnancy fT4 and TSH had significantly higher pre and postpartum depression scores and, most importantly, greater than a three-fold higher risk of developing syndromal (major or minor depression) or subsyndromal depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores > 12) during the perinatal period.