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"Life Course Health Development: “Think Nutrition First” featuring Marion Taylor Baer, PhD, RD and Dena R. Herman, PhD, MPH, RD. To Be Determined, 2019. REGISTER HERE.

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LCRN is actively seeking additional funding to develop new and innovative transdisciplinary research and activities. If you would like to contribute, please contact Ericka Tullis, Project Manager, at ETullis@mednet.ucla.edu.

Association Between Neighborhood Violence and Biological Stress in Children

By Katherine P. Theall, Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff, Andrew R. Dismukes, Maeve Wallace, Stacy S. Drury

Importance  Exposure to violence continues to be a growing epidemic, particularly among children. An enhanced understanding of the biological effect of exposure to violence is critical. Objective  To examine the association between neighborhood violence and cellular and biological stress in children. Design, Setting, and Participants  A matched, cross-sectional study of 85 black children aged 5 to 16 years from 52 neighborhoods took place in the greater New Orleans, Louisiana, area between January 1, 2012, and July 31, 2013. Exposures  Density of businesses where individuals can purchase alcohol as measured by rates per capita of liquor or convenience stores, and violence as measured by reports of violent crime and reports of …

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Rethinking the role of stress in development: Emerging evolutionary perspectives

By Marco Del Giudice

This webinar – part of LCRN’s series on The State of Life Course Health Development Research – features Marco Del Giudice, PhD.   Dr. Del Giudice is Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. His main research area is the evolutionary study of human development across the life span, with a focus on individual and sex differences and their neurobiological basis. He has published more than 60 papers and book chapters on a wide range of topics, from the biology of developmental plasticity to the classification of mental disorders in an evolutionary framework. With his collaborators he has advanced the Adaptive Calibration Model, an evolutionary-developmental model …

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The Parental Brain: How Parenthood Shapes the Adult Brain

By Pilyoung Kim

This webinar – part of the LCRN’s series on The State of Life Course Health Development Research: Past, Present and Future – features Pilyoung Kim, PhD.   Dr. Kim is Assistant Professor of Psychology and a director of the Family and Child Neuroscience lab at the University of Denver. Her long-term research career trajectory is to examine the early life origins of socioeconomic disparities in health from a neurobiological perspective. Dr. Kim’s current work, funded by the National Institue of Child Health and Human Development, focuses on the prospective effects of perinatal exposures to poverty on the neural plasticity in new mothers and infants. She was a recipient of the 2014 …

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How Socioeconomic Disadvantages Get Into the Brain Across the Lifespan

By Pilyoung Kim

This webinar, part of the LCRN’s series based on the Handbook of Life Course Health Development,  features Pilyoung Kim, PhD.   Dr. Kim is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Family and Child Neuroscience lab at the University of Denver (http://www.pilyoungkim.org/). Dr. Kim’s long-term research career trajectory is to examine the early life origins of socioeconomic disparities in health from a neurobiological perspective. Her current work focuses on the prospective effects of perinatal exposures to poverty-related chronic stress on the neural systems in new mothers and infants. Dr. Kim received her Master’s Degree from Harvard and her PhD from Cornell before completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Developmental Affective …

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Mechanisms of Stress in the Brain

By Bruce S. McEwen, Nicole P. Bowles, Jason D. Gray, Matthew N. Hill, Richard G. Hunter, Ilia N. Karatsoreos & Carla Nasca.

The brain is the central organ involved in perceiving and adapting to social and physical stressors via multiple interacting mediators, from the cell surface to the cytoskeleton to epigenetic regulation and nongenomic mechanisms. A key result of stress is structural remodeling of neural architecture, which may be a sign of successful adaptation, whereas persistence of these changes when stress ends indicates failed resilience. Excitatory amino acids and glucocorticoids have key roles in these processes, along with a growing list of extra- and intracellular mediators that includes endocannabinoids and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The result is a continually changing pattern of gene expression mediated by epigenetic mechanisms involving histone modifications and …

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Neighborhood Adversity, Child Health, and the Role for Community Development

By Douglas P. Jutte, Jennifer L. Miller and David J. Erickson

Despite medical advances, childhood health and well-being have not been broadly achieved due to rising chronic diseases and conditions related to child poverty. Family and neighborhood living conditions can have lasting consequences for health, with community adversity affecting health outcomes in significant part through stress response and increased allostatic load. Exposure to this “toxic stress” influences gene expression and brain development with direct and indirect negative consequences for health. Ensuring healthy child development requires improving conditions in distressed, high-poverty neighborhoods by reducing children’s exposure to neighborhood stressors and supporting good family and caregiver functioning. The community development industry invests more than $200 billion annually in low-income neighborhoods, with the goal …

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The Biological Embedding of Child Abuse, and Implications for Policy and Practice: CFP Webinar

By Seth Pollak and Sara Jaffee for the University-Based Child and Family Policy (CFP) Consortium in collaboration with the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)

This webinar was hosted by the University-Based Child and Family Policy (CFP) Consortium, which is run in collaboration with the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). Drs. Cheryl Boyce and Valerie Maholmes from the National Institutes of Health moderated the webinar. Drs. Seth Pollak (University of Wisconsin – Madison) and Sara Jaffee (University of Pennsylvania) served as presenters. Dr. Caitlin McPherran Lombardi (Boston College) organized the webinar. The webinar was held on December 2, 2014.   The presentation by Dr. Pollak drew on his research, including findings from a study recently published in Child Development on “Associations Between Early Life Stress and Gene Methylation in Children” (Click HERE to …

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The Biological Embedding of Child Abuse and Neglect: Implications for Policy and Practice

By Sara Jaffee and Cindy Christian

Each year within the US alone over 770,000 children are victimized by abuse and neglect (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010), and this figure is likely to underestimate the extent of the problem. Researchers have long recognized that maltreatment has adverse effects on children’s mental health and academic achievement. Studies of adults show that adverse childhood experiences like maltreatment increase risk for chronic diseases of aging, including Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What the field does not fully understand is why maltreatment has such pervasive effects. Studies on the neuroscience of maltreatment have begun to offer some clues. Victims of maltreatment differ from non-victims with respect to …

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Associations Between Early Life Stress and Gene Methylation in Children

By Sarah E. Romens, Jennifer McDonald, John Svaren and Seth D. Pollak

Children exposed to extreme stress are at heightened risk for developing mental and physical disorders. However, little is known about mechanisms underlying these associations in humans. An emerging insight is that children’s social environments change gene expression, which contributes to biological vulnerabilities for behavioral problems. Epigenetic changes in the glucocorticoid receptor gene, a critical component of stress regulation, were examined in whole blood from 56 children aged 11–14 years. Children exposed to physical maltreatment had greater methylation within exon 1F in the NR3C1 promoter region of the gene compared to nonmaltreated children, including the putative NGFI-A (nerve growth factor) binding site. These results highlight molecular mechanisms linking childhood stress with …

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Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children’s telomere length

By Colter Mitchella, John Hobcraftb, Sara S. McLanahanc, Susan Rutherford Siegeld, Arthur Bergd, Jeanne Brooks-Gunne, Irwin Garfinkelf, and Daniel Nottermand

Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. We use data from 40, 9-y-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to extend this observation to African American children. We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic …

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