I am obstetrician/gynecologist who recently completed a Schizophrenia Research Fellowship and an MPH in Epidemiology at the NewYork State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University. I have now been recruited as a Research Assistant Professor to New York University's School of Medicine in the Department Psychiatry to contribute to the nucleus of the new Division of Molecular and Translational Medicine in Psychiatry. A major focus of this new Division will be to study the role of aberrant fetal neurodevelopment and adult neuropsychiatric outcomes. After discussion with my mentors, I have designed a rigorous training program consisting of formal coursework in epidemiology and statistics and the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, laboratory training using animal models, management of large databases and training in ethical research. As a schizophrenia research fellow, I became increasingly interested in the effects of stress during pregnancy and neuropsychiatric outcomes in the offspring through my work with Dr. Dolores Malaspina, my primary mentor on this training grant. As an outgrowth of my work with Dr. Malaspina, I performed a study using animal models investigating stress during pregnancy and the behavioral outcomes of offspring in Dr. Michael Myers's (a mentor on this grant) laboratory at Columbia University. Through this work I became intensely interested in this area of study. As part of the research component of this grant, I will perform three epidemiologic studies. using existing databases, investigating the effects of acute stress in the population on women during pregnancy and the neuropsychiatric and neurocognitive outcomes of their offspring. In addition I will perform a series of experiments to examine neurobehavioral outcomes in offspring of pregnant rats administered glucocortoids during specific times of gestation. These complementary epidemiologic and animal model studies, along with the mentoring and training I will receive, will ensure that at the completion of this award I will be a successful independent scientist.

Public Health Relevance

There have been many natural and manmade disasters in 2008. It is important to model the risk for psychopathology that is related to intrauterine exposure to violence and trauma. The work proposed here can help identify risk factors for psychiatric illnesses and can lay the foundation for the development of targeted interventions to reduce the risk of psychiatric disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
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Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME)
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Zehr, Julia L
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New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
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