The area of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology is a rapidly growing domain with great potential to inform the understanding of the causal pathways and mechanisms of mental illness. The division of Child Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine is well poised to launch this novel post-doctoral fellowship based on already established innovations related to this domain, as well as the range of related expertise offered by the proposed multidisciplinary mentor group. From a public health perspective, an infusion of new research scientists in the area of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology is a high priority. The proposed multi-disciplinary training approach is guided by a conceptual model that examines emotional, cognitive, behavioral, neurobiological and genetic aspects of psychopathology from a developmental perspective. Further, this training program is guided by a perspective that recognizes that the risk, onset and course of psychiatric disorders arises through a complex interplay of brain developmental processes influenced by psychosocial, genetic, and biological factors that interact beginning in utero and continue throughout development. The program will be guided by two researchers with complimentary expertise in developmental psychopathology (Dr. Joan Luby) and clinical neuroscience and functional imaging (Dr. Deanna Barch). Numerous investigators at Washington University (WU) have a rich track record of experience in many aspects of child neuroimaging, including an emerging new focus on fMRI in very early childhood that allows examination of the evolution of brain behavior relationships in healthy and psychopathological populations as early as the pre-school period. Further, Washington University has an international reputation in psychiatric genetics, with many investigators who can bring both behavioral and molecular genetic approaches to bear on understanding the neurobiology of developmental psychopathology. In addition, the program mentors have a rich body of databases derived from longitudinal studies, several of which began in early childhood. Research taking a developmental psychopathology approach using a neuroscience model is a new and burgeoning area in training programs. The program mentors provide a unique multidisciplinary training environment in which to pursue this exciting new domain focused on childhood, given the established collaborations between child researchers in the School of Medicine clinical and basic departments, and the state of the program in neuroscience and neuroimaging at WU that has been at the fore front of developmental cognitive and affective neuroscience. Further, interactions between researchers in basic and clinical developmental neuroscience offers an opportunity to help train the next generation of young scientists who can pursue questions about the developmental etiology of psychopathology from the perspective of core psychological and neural mechanisms of human behavior that can inform and span traditional boundaries of psychopathology, an approach central to the Research Domain Criteria Initiative (RDOC) led by the NIMH.
The area of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology is rapidly growing and has great potential to inform the understanding of the causal pathways and mechanisms of mental illness, and thus an infusion of new research scientists in this area is a high priority to advance public health. The division of Child Psychiaty at Washington University School of Medicine is well poised to launch this novel post-doctoral training program based on already established innovations related to this domain, as well as the range of related expertise in child neuroimaging and genetics offered by the proposed multidisciplinary mentoring group. The program will be directed by two researchers with complimentary expertise in developmental psychopathology (Dr. Joan Luby) and clinical neuroscience and functional imaging (Dr. Deanna Barch).