We currently lack knowledge on the intermediary mechanisms whereby lead exposure translates itself into increased behavior problems in childhood. This K02 Independent Scientist Development Award application will enable the candidate to develop an interdisciplinary program of research whose overarching goal is to uncover the cognitive and affective mechanisms of action underlying lead exposure-behavior problems relationship in a large sample of community children. This research program questions the current CDC "safe" standard of 10 ug/dl of lead, and hypothesizes that early sub-clinical lead exposure results in negative clinical, cognitive, and affective functioning. Building on an NIEHS-funded community preschool cohort study, the investigators will first propose to repeat measurements of both blood lead levels and behavioral outcomes to assess whether children with sustained sub-clinical blood lead levels across time are especially likely to develop externalizing behavior problems. Second, the investigators aim to understand how lead exposure interacts with social risk factors in predisposing to externalizing behavior problems. Third, and importantly, they propose to elucidate the neurocognitive and affective mediating mechanisms by which lead exposure during the preschool years contribute to externalizing behavior problems in early adolescence. This K02 will help foster the candidate's ability to achieve these research goals by providing her with protected time to collaborate more closely with senior scientists in the field, to be more fully engaged in her NIH- funded international research project on this sample, and to enhance her interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in development psychopathology, environmental toxicity, psycho-physiological testing, and advanced statistical analysis. Programmatically, the K02 will be of critical value in moving her into a new line of interdisciplinary research on prevention and intervention of behavior problems by giving her time to develop a nutritional intervention for preventing and treating behavior problems in lead-exposed children. This research program consequently has the potential to help redefine what level of lead exposure is safe, identify hitherto unknown mechanisms of action, and reduce childhood behavior problems throughout the community.

Public Health Relevance

Understanding the neurobiological basis of lead exposure on children's externalizing behavior will be significant to future attempts to tackle two important global public health issues: lead exposure and children externalizing behavior, ultimately helping to improve the quality life of the individual and the family unit.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
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Environmental Health Sciences Review Committee (EHS)
Program Officer
Shreffler, Carol K
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University of Pennsylvania
Other Health Professions
Schools of Nursing
United States
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Liu, Jianghong; Hanlon, Alexandra; Ma, Chenjuan et al. (2014) Low blood zinc, iron, and other sociodemographic factors associated with behavior problems in preschoolers. Nutrients 6:530-45
Ji, Ai-Ling; Wong, Yin-Ling Irene; Cai, Tong-Jian et al. (2014) Infant formula safety concerns and consequences in China. World J Pediatr 10:7-9
Liu, Jianghong; Liu, Xianchen; Wang, Wei et al. (2014) Blood lead concentrations and children's behavioral and emotional problems: a cohort study. JAMA Pediatr 168:737-45
Liu, Jianghong; Leung, Patrick; Yang, Amy (2014) Breastfeeding and active bonding protects against children's internalizing behavior problems. Nutrients 6:76-89
Liu, Jianghong; Lewis, Gary (2014) Environmental toxicity and poor cognitive outcomes in children and adults. J Environ Health 76:130-8
Liu, Jianghong; Li, Linda; Wang, Yingjie et al. (2013) Impact of low blood lead concentrations on IQ and school performance in Chinese children. PLoS One 8:e65230
Li, Linda; Liu, Jianghong (2013) The effect of pediatric traumatic brain injury on behavioral outcomes: a systematic review. Dev Med Child Neurol 55:37-45
Liu, Jianghong; Lynn, Richard (2013) An Increase of Intelligence in China 1986-2012. Intelligence 41:
Liu, Jianghong; Hwang, Wei-Ting; Dickerman, Barbra et al. (2013) Regular breakfast consumption is associated with increased IQ in kindergarten children. Early Hum Dev 89:257-62
Liu, Jianghong; Li, Linda (2013) Parent-reported mild head injury history and behavioural performance in children at 6 years. Brain Inj 27:1263-70

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