Dr. Amanda Tamman, Baylor College of Medicine

AIM Implementation & Equity Grantee: Dr. Amanda Tamman

Dr. Amanda Tamman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. She aspires to improve understanding the neural ‘imprints’ left by stress and trauma to best target treatment of psychiatric disorders. Her unique viewpoint integrates interdisciplinary genetic, neural, and relational fields to understand psychiatric disorders, rather than examining these etiological factors in isolation. She gained this viewpoint with training in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology, a joint MSc program at University College London and Yale Child Study Center that draws on multiple perspectives in psychiatry with an emphasis on neuroscience. Amanda’s work has two aims. First, she focuses on identifying the interaction between fMRI, neurophysiological, genetic, and behavioral factors in understanding trauma-related psychiatric disorders. Second, she aims to use this knowledge to develop and test novel treatments for stress-related disorders and potential mechanisms of their effects. This includes endeavors to examine the effect of psychedelic agents on genetic markers of aging and inflammation, and the effects of psychedelic agents on relational factors such as interpersonal skills in work funded by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and AIM Youth Mental Health.

Young adults are prone to experiencing stress-related disorders, which can have both psychological and physical effects on their health. Researchers have been studying changes in a process called DNA methylation that can give insights into how fast a person is aging at a biological level. By understanding this relationship, they hope to find ways to address health issues that arise prematurely due to stress. Initial findings suggest that faster biological aging, as indicated by certain genetic markers, is linked to inflammation in the body. This highlights the potential for treatments that reduce inflammation to slow down the aging process. One potential treatment being explored is psilocybin, a compound that activates a specific receptor in the brain known as 5-HT2A. It has shown promise in treating stress-related disorders and has been designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA.

Our study aims to investigate how psilocybin affects two measures of genetic aging (GrimAge acceleration and telomere length) in 18-26 year olds with stress-related disorders over a period of 8 weeks, starting from before the treatment to after the last dose of psilocybin. Our goal is to understand how a critical biomarker related to both physical and mental health problems can be targeted early in adulthood to prevent the development of more serious health issues and premature death.