Kristin Cadenhead, M.D. 



Contact Information

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0804
T: (619) 543-6445
F: (619) 543-7315


Dr. Kristin Cadenhead a Professor of Psychiatry at University of California San Diego and an attending physician at both the Veterans Administration and the UCSD Medical Centers. She serves as an Associate Residency Training Director for the Department of Psychiatry and a Clinical Foundations Director for the School of Medicine. She is the Director of the Cognitive Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) Program, a research and clinical program that focuses on early identification, intervention and prevention of serious mental illness. Dr. Cadenhead is the Medical Director of the Mental Health Primary Care clinic at the VA Medical Center. She received her BA degree in Biology/Psychology from Rice University in Houston, Texas. She then earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She completed her residency in Psychiatry and Fellowship in Schizophrenia research at UCSD.

Research Interests

Research Focus

Primary research interests include vulnerability markers in the schizophrenia spectrum of disorders (prodromal schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder) and the genetics of schizophrenia. Dr. Cadenhead is the Director of the “CARE” (Cognitive Assessment and Risk Evaluation) Program to study the early signs of psychosis in adolescents and young adults. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CARE program provides education and community outreach to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the San Diego Public Schools and other community health and physician organizations. The study is longitudinal and assesses clinical as well as physiologic and cognitive factors that may be predictive of developing schizophrenia. A major aim of the CARE program is to identify psychosis early so that it is possible to intervene earlier and perhaps prevent some of the devastating effects of schizophrenia. Dr. Cadenhead is also interested in the heritability of the information processing traits and participates in ongoing studies in normal twins. Dr. Cadenhead has expertise in the treatment of psychotic disorders and provides regular consultations.

Clinical Focus

The CARE Program provides clinical care to individuals who are developing the initial signs of a psychotic illness. The treatment philosophy includes a multidisciplinary approach with pharmacologic management, social services, stress management and psychoeducation as part of the program. Dr. Cadenhead is also the Director of the Psychiatry Primary Care Clinic at the SDVAMC. The Primary Care Clinic is staffed by psychiatry residents who provide both psychiatric and primary care to psychiatric patients while they are supervised by Attending Physicians in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine.


  • Cadenhead, K.S., Geyer, M.A., Braff, D.L.: Impaired startle prepulse inhibition and habituation in schizotypal personality disordered patients. American Journal of Psychiatry. 150:1862-1867, 1993.
  • Cadenhead, K.S., Serper, Y. and Braff, D.L.: Transient versus sustained visual channels in the VBM deficits of schizophrenia patients. Biological Psychiatry,43:132-138, 1998.
  • Cadenhead K., Light G., Geyer M., Braff D: Sensory gating deficits assessed by the P50 event-related potential in subjects with schizotypal personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157:55-59, 2000.
  • Cadenhead KS, Swerdlow NR, Shafer K, Diaz M, Braff DL: Modulation of the startle response and startle laterality in relatives of schizophrenia patients and schizotypal personality disordered subjects: Evidence of inhibitory deficits. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157:1660-1668, 2000.
  • Cadenhead KS, Light GA, Geyer MA, McDowell JA, Braff DL: Neurobiological measures in schizotypal personality disorder: Can we define a phenotype? American Journal of Psychiatry 159:869-871, 2002.