SSRI News Spring 2007 > News Feature

News Feature

Highlighting Bruce Chorpita

We are pleased to feature one of our college's many prolific researchers and principal investigators of sponsored projects, Dr. Bruce Choprita, Professor of Psychology. Dr. Chorpita joined the faculty at UH Manoa after receiving his doctorate from the State University of New York, Albany in 1997. In just a short ten year period, he has received international recognition for his work on childhood anxiety disorders, received numerous research awards, including the coveted University of Hawaii Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Research, and has built a strong team of collaborators among students and faculty. A lesser known fact is that he also finds time to compete (and excel) in marathons and triathlons.


Dr. Chorpita's research covers essentially two major tracks. First, his work in the area of childhood psychopathology focuses on articulating a developmental model for childhood anxiety disorders, with particular focus on the role of environmental risk factors in fostering and maintaining psychological vulnerability. One of his major findings is that childhood "anxiety" is not a unitary construct, but rather the interaction of multiple constructs that appear to be hierarchically arranged. With this more detailed understanding of the variables involved in the development of anxiety, he has been able to integrate basic psychopathology literature with theory from animal learning and developmental psychology to generate a broad model that explains the development of anxiety disorders in youth. At the heart of the model is the notion that a central vulnerability for all anxiety disorders can be strengthened by early experiences that are typically involved with routine parenting practices. This suggests that, from an intervention perspective, it may be more important to consider the many diverse anxiety disorders as a single anxiety syndrome, rather than as discrete disorders. In seeking to translate these findings from psychopathology research to practice, Dr. Chorpita has spent the past several years developing new clinical treatments based on updated theory.


The second major track of Dr. Chorpita's research involves the dissemination of psychological interventions into community settings. Having spent the past four years working closely with the Hawaii Departments of Health and Education in efforts to implement science-based practices for youth in our community, Dr. Chorpita and his colleagues developed several novel approaches for delivering the products of science to communities in Hawaii. In one of the more important achievements, Dr. Chorpita and his colleagues were able to propose an applied, science-driven model for guiding service delivery in large practice organizations. The impact of his research has also led to various grants and research awards. He has received over $6 million in extramural grants from federal, private, and local sources.


Additionally, over the past ten years, Dr. Chorpita has received several prestigious research awards. In 2005, he received the Excellence in Research Award from the UH Board of Regents, which is bestowed upon only the best two or three researchers at UH annually. He was also honored by the Hawaii Psychological Association (2002), the Hawaii Department of Health (2004), the Hawaii Governor's Office (2004), and the College of Social Sciences (2005).


Dr. Chorpita served as associate editor for the past two years for one of the leading child psychopathology journals in the field, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, and continues to review for psychology's top journals, including Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Review, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Abnormal Psychology.


Dr. Chorpita also finds time to supervise undergraduate and graduate students in his lab and collaborates with a cadre of researchers at UH Manoa and other universities.




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