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xTechSearch finalist tackles post-traumatic stress disorder at the root of the problem

Published: 03/15/2022
Dr. Gennifer Persusini

By the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON – Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition familiar to many U.S. Army Soldiers, whether they’ve experienced it themselves or through a colleague on the frontlines. While this mental health issue might seem unsolvable because it’s so widespread, an xTechSearch finalist gives hope to those struggling with PTSD.

Dr. Jennifer Perusini, CEO and Co-founder of Neurovation Labs, is using her background and extensive research in behavioral neuroscience to rapidly identify and treat PTSD following a traumatic event. The small business, co-founded by Dr. Michael Fanselow and Richard Zemsky in 2016, is headquartered in New York City and has discovered the first potential brain biomarker of PTSD, which is an elevated protein located in the fear center of the brain that could cause symptoms.

Neurovation Labs is utilizing brain imaging techniques to develop a diagnostic tool, which will determine if this protein is increased after a trauma. Simultaneously, the company is developing a companion oral medication to inhibit the protein and concurrently treat PTSD symptoms, if identified during the brain scan.

Due to the potential impacts on the physical and emotional health of Soldiers, Dr. Perusini and her team submitted a proposal to xTechSearch 5 in 2020, with the hope of establishing connections within the Army and gaining potential funding to continue their research and technology development.  xTechSearch is a competition sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, targeting small businesses to uncover novel dual-use science and technology solutions to tackle the Army’s most critical modernization challenges.  Finalists receive awards that help fund research and development efforts.

“xTech is helping us perform customer discovery and navigate the Department of Defense as we continue development of our products,” said Dr. Perusini. “We believe xTech will not only allow us to progress our research, but to transition our products to military use.”

In September 2021, Neurovation Labs was named a finalist of xTechSearch 5 and walked away with a prize of over $140K to grow their business and solution.

While Neurovation Labs is in the preclinical research and development phase, the company aims to ultimately develop a diagnostic brain imaging tool that can be used in a combat zone to proactively treat PTSD symptoms.

“Right now, PTSD requires at least 30 days of symptoms, which is a long time to suffer, especially for a Soldier in combat,” said Dr. Perusini.

Neurovation Labs is currently screening for candidates for early drug treatment of PTSD, and was issued a U.S. patent in January 2022 for their PTSD diagnosis and treatment methods. With their funding from the xTech Program and a Small Business Innovation Research contract with the Air Force, Dr. Perusini is also hopeful that the company will be approaching diagnostic clinical trials within the next 18 to 24 months. They strive to be one step closer to offering a PTSD solution to Soldiers who struggle with mental health following combat.

“At the end of the day, I really want our tool to help end the stigma [of mental health],” said Dr. Perusini. “This isn’t just ‘in your head,’ but there is an actual, physical protein that is causing symptoms.”

For more information on Dr. Perusini and the work Neurovation Labs is doing to end PTSD, visit their website at

Dr. Gennifer Persusini

xTechSearch finalist tackles post-traumatic stress disorder at the root of the problem

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