Started at NYU when Ken Langone, the name donor of the university’s hospital system, connected Steve Cohen with Charlie Marmar, the chair of the psychiatry department. Marmar, who’d spent 21 years at the San Francisco VA, had an idea not only for a mental health clinic but for research on the biological signs of PTSD.
The mission, as one researcher involved in the project described it, was to find a “pregnancy test for PTSD”: a blood test or a brain scan that could be used to diagnose PTSD, rather than relying on self-reported symptoms. Better understanding the biology might also lead to more effective treatments.
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs had already sunk millions into pursuing PTSD biomarkers, with little to show for it. Cohen launched a second nonprofit organization, called Cohen Veterans Bioscience, to lead the research.