Contact Information

Psychiatry: Faculty and Staff


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Psychiatry
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
Phone: (301) 295-3294
Fax: (301) 295-1536

Robert K. Gifford, Ph.D.

Robert K. Gifford, Ph.D., is the Director of Homeland Security Studies in the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS); specializing in the study of traumatic stress in the workplace, particularly combat stress, operational stress, accidents, and the aftermath of workplace incidents. His advanced degrees include Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy degrees, both in psychology, from Yale University, and a Master of Science in clinical psychology from Saint Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Gifford served in the United States Army for thirty years, retiring as a colonel. While in the Army, he conducted psychological research in the field during operations in Panama, the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield/Storm), in Somalia, and in Bosnia, as well as at sites in Germany and the United States during peacetime. His research on soldiers' stress and coping during operational deployments and his studies of grief leadership were used by the Army leadership to develop personnel policies for improving support of soldiers in the field. His other military assignments included serving as Director of Admissions for the USUHS School of Medicine: Chief of the Staff and Faculty Development Division at the Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit - Europe, in Heidelberg, Germany, Director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Chief of the Department of Military Psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Executive Officer of the WRAIR. He also served as Research Psychology Consultant to The Army Surgeon General and later as the Army Medical Service Corps' Assistant Chief for Medical Allied Sciences.

His military honors include three awards of the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, three awards of the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Services Achievement Medal, and various other campaign and service ribbons and awards, including shoulder sleeve insignia for the 10th Mountain Division and for Third U.S. Army, both awarded for combat zone service. He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit, and holds the Army Medical Department "A" Proficiency Designator.

Dr. Gifford's research interests include community shielding; creating resiliency in organizations; the role of group, organizational, and community factors in preparing for disaster or traumatic loss and in facilitating a return to normal function after such events; and grief leadership - the effect of leaders' behavior and communication on group recovery. He has extensive experience with both interview research at multiple levels within organizations, and survey questionnaires for larger populations. He has also been active in education about traumatic stress and developing resiliency in organizations and individuals, having lectured on the topic both in the United States and in Europe.