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Benjamin Suarez-Jimenez, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-6866

Office: (585) 275-7103

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments


Professional Background

I obtained a bachelor's of psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez campus, where I started to examine the effects of the 2003 Iraq war on children’s resiliency and on their academic performance.

Following my B.A., I participated in the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and afterward the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This led to an Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to continue my research training. At both post-baccalaureate programs I explored the biology of anxiety in primates.

Seeking to expand my understanding of anxiety in humans and further develop my skills as a researcher, I pursued a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the NIMH-UCL Graduate Partnership Program, mentored by Drs. Christian Grillon and Daniel Pine at the NIMH, and Professor Neil Burgess at University College London (UCL). In my research, I explored neural activity involved in environmental discrimination learning using basic task-based fMRI methods. I created and validated a novel VR paradigm to study discrimination learning in healthy adults.

To further expand my previous research efforts to clinically relevant research in the field of PTSD, I was awarded a T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University, under the mentorship of Dr. Yuval Neria. Afterwards, I was awarded a K01 grant and promoted to Assistant Professor at the Psychiatry Department. During this time, I acquired knowledge in the assessment and treatment of pathological anxiety and PTSD to understand the neural signatures of PTSD, using my VR tasks.

These experiences and projects have solidified my commitment to understanding the neural mechanisms of environmental discrimination learning in individuals with anxiety and trauma-related disorders. I am dedicated to supporting these communities through my research because of (1) my personal background, (2) the recent disproportional increases in PTSD and anxiety disorder diagnoses, particularly in the military population, and (3) how understudied and underserved these populations remain.


My research program aims to use virtual reality (VR), multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and machine learning to elucidate the psychological and neural signatures of PTSD and anxiety disorders. Particularly, to delineate the contextual aspects of threat and reward learning, discrimination, and monitoring. I am specifically interested in cases where an area within a larger environment becomes associated with threat, such as the area of a neighborhood where an assault or assaults took place, or the location on a battlefield where explosions occurred. Patients with PTSD and anxiety disorders often show an overgeneralization or an exaggerated response to threat in larger contexts, even in environments predicting safety. With this research, I plan to identify new brain measures to develop sensitive, personalized, and precise diagnostic and treatment tools for psychopathology.



BA | Univ of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

PhD | UK-University College London

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

06/2016 - 10/2018
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Columbia University, New York, NY. Supervisor: Dr. Yuval Neria. Experience: Studied the neural bases of location-specific contextual fear in patients with PTSD. Investigated neural signatures of PTSD using MRI.


Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion award
Sponsor: Life Science Editors Foundation

Competitive Renewal ACNP 2022 Annual Meeting Travel Award Recipient
Sponsor: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Furth Funds Award
Sponsor: University of Rochester

NIH-National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Utah NRMN Grant-Writing Coaching Groups
Sponsor: NIH-National Research Mentoring Network

Competitive Renewal ACNP 2021 Annual Meeting Travel Award Recipient
Sponsor: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

National Institutes of Health Early Career Reviewer program at the Center for Scientific Review
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

Outstanding science poster at the Second Annual Columbia Psychiatry Science Celebration
Sponsor: Columbia University

Competitive Renewal ACNP 2020 Annual Meeting Travel Award Recipient
Sponsor: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience (BRAINS) Fellow
Sponsor: Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in Neuro

American College of Neuropsychopharmachology (ACNP) 2019 Annual Meeting Travel Award Recipient
Sponsor: American College of Neuropsychopharmachology (ACNP

Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship of the 2019 Amygdala Function in Emotion, Cognition and Disease Gordon
Sponsor: Gordon Research Conference

Outstanding Graduate Research Recognition at NIH
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) recipient at Columbia University
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

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Journal Articles

Alon Y, Bar-Haim Y, Dykan CDG, Suarez-Jimenez B, Zhu X, Neria Y, Lazarov A. "Eye-tracking indices of attention allocation and attention bias variability are differently related to trauma exposure and PTSD." Journal of anxiety disorders.. 2023 Apr 25; 96:102715. Epub 2023 Apr 25.

Zhu X, Suarez-Jimenez B, Lazarov A, Such S, Marohasy C, Small SS, Wager TD, Lindquist MA, Lissek S, Neria Y. "Sequential fear generalization and network connectivity in trauma exposed humans with and without psychopathology." Communications biology.. 2022 Nov 21; 5(1):1275. Epub 2022 Nov 21.

Keefe JR, Suarez-Jimenez B, Zhu X, Lazarov A, Durosky A, Such S, Marohasy C, Lissek S, Neria Y. "Elucidating behavioral and functional connectivity markers of aberrant threat discrimination in PTSD." Depression and anxiety.. 2022 Nov 6; Epub 2022 Nov 06.