Rebecca Bernert

Bio:   Dr. Bernert is Founding Director of the Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory, and Co-Chairs a special departmental initiative to develop a Center for Premature Mortality and Suicide Prevention. She is a suicidologist, with subspecialty expertise in suicide prevention clinical trials, standardized suicide risk assessment and best practice management, and the epidemiology of self-directed violence. She has subspecialty training in behavioral sleep medicine, with a background in sleep and circadian physiology. Her program utilizes cognitive, biologic (e.g., fMRI), and behavioral testing paradigms, with an emphasis on translational therapeutics. Dr. Bernert has collaborated with NIH, DOD, DARPA, SAMHSA, and CDC on suicide prevention initiatives; and recently served as a content expert for the White House 2015 Open Data and Innovation for Suicide Prevention #Hackathon. She has also contributed to the development of clinical practice parameters, including the 2013 VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Suicide Risk, with current work underway focused on investigating medical education training in suicide risk assessment and management. Her research focuses on the identification of novel therapeutic targets for suicide prevention across the lifespan, particularly those aiming to reduce stigma and enhance access to care. A specific focus of this work emphasizes the use of rapid-action, low-risk treatment approaches for the prevention of suicide. Dr. Bernert has several suicide prevention trials underway, funded by NIH and DOD, testing the preliminary efficacy of a non pharmacological insomnia treatment on suicidal behaviors. She also has several grants focused on the development of a data monitoring system for the study of local suicide clusters and emergency department based protocols to improve risk detection within pediatric suicide prevention. Our aim is to delineate transdiagnostic risk factors and biomarkers of clinical response that may inform the pathogenesis of risk and treatment innovation. An overarching mission is to harness new technologies within suicide prevention, including artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile health applications, to enhance risk detection and multidisciplinary frameworks. Advisory and advocacy work, and the way in which research guides health policy, dissemination, and national strategies for suicide prevention, represents an extension of this work. This includes recent initiatives to establish national and local guidelines for lethal means restriction and calls for advanced technology use in suicide prevention research and strategy. Last, Dr. Bernert has several pilot projects underway focused on inclusive practices in faculty diversity and development, and the way in which family-friendly policies impact faculty recruitment and retention in academic medicine.

Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic in Palo Alto

Professional Education

  • PhD Training: Florida State University (2009) FL
  • Undergraduate Education, University of Oregon, English and Psychology (2000)
  • Graduate Education, Florida State University, Clinical Psychology (2009)
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, NIH/NHGRI, Intramural Research Training Award in Biomedical Sciences (2006)
  • Internship: Palo Alto VA Healthcare System (2009) CA
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, NIH/NIMH, Florida State University, National Research Service Award (F31) (2007)
  • Clinical Internship, VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS), Clinical Psychology (2009)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH/NIMH, Stanford University, National Research Service Award (T32) (2011)

Administrative Appointments

  • Co-Chair, The Center for Premature Mortality and Suicide Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine (2015 - Present)
  • Director, Stanford Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (2012 - Present)
  • Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine (2011 - 2015)
  • Investigator, Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC), VA Palo Alto Health Care System (2013 - Present)

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.