Victoria B Risbrough, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Telephone #: (619)543-2900
FAX #: (619)543-2493


Dr. Risbrough received her B.A. degree in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. During her graduate career she was supported by a Merck Fellowship and an NIMH pre-doctoral award. She began her postgraduate training with Dr. Mark Geyer in 2004 and became a faculty member in the Department in 2007. Dr. Risbrough is the Principal Investigator on awards from the National Institute of Health, NARSAD and the U.S. Department of Defense. She is also Chief of the Psychophysiology Unit of the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health at the San Diego Veterans Healthcare System.

Research Focus

Dr. Risbrough’s research is centered on translational mechanisms and treatments of anxiety disorders using preclinical and clinical approaches. Her primary focus is
understanding mechanisms of risk and resilience to anxiety disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, she examines the contribution of corticotropin releasing factor to stress and anxiety responses using pharmacological and genetic techniques in mice. Her program also identifies genetic and environmental contributions to stress behavior and fear learning. By measuring physiological responses to stress (including heart rate and startle reactivity) in animal models and in clinic, her research develops translational probes of anxiety responding and treatment efficacy.

Clinical Focus

The goal of our work is to understand the basic mechanisms underlying anxiety and fear responses, as well as to identify biological factors contributing to the risk of and resilience to development of anxiety disorders. With this information we hope to develop better measures of treatment response in anxiety disorders and identify novel targets of pharmacotherapeutics.

Selected Publications

Risbrough V, Brodkin J, Geyer M (2003) GABA-A and 5-HT1A receptor agonists block-fear potentiated startle in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology 28(4):654-63.

Risbrough VB, Hauger RL, Roberts AL, Vale WW, Geyer MA (2004) Corticotropin-releasing factor receptors CRF1 and CRF2 exert both additive and opposing influences on defensive startle behavior. Journal of Neuroscience 24:6545-6552.

Risbrough VB, Stein MA (2006) Role of Corticotropin Releasing Factor in anxiety disorders: A translational research perspective. Hormones and Behavior, 50:550-561

Risbrough VB, Geyer MA, Hauger RL, Coste S, Stenzel-Poore M, Wurst W, Holsboer F. (in press) CRF(1) and CRF(2) Receptors are Required for Potentiated Startle to Contextual but not Discrete Cues. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Nov 19 Epub.

Risbrough, VB (in press) Behavioral Correlates of Anxiety. In Stein M, Steckler T (Eds) Behavioral Neurobiology of Anxiety and its Treatment, Elsevier, London, UK.


University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0603 La Jolla, CA 92037-0603
Telephone: (858) 534-3684, Fax: (858) 534-7653, Electronic Mail: