PROJECT SUMMAY / ABSTRACT There is increasing evidence for a profound and persistent impact of childhood stress and trauma on adverse behavioral and physical health outcomes across the lifespan. However, progress toward elucidating mechanisms of risk and novel prevention and intervention efforts to promote resilience is limited by the small number of investigators trained to conduct translational, developmentally-informed research focused on childhood stress, trauma, and resilience. The proposed postdoctoral research training in childhood Stress, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR T32) takes a broad approach to stress, adversity and traumas experienced by children and families and their impact on biobehavioral mechanisms and health outcomes across development. The STAR T32 is an intensive research fellowship designed to prepare PhD and MD postdoctoral fellows to conduct cutting-edge, translational, developmentally-informed research on childhood stress, trauma and resilience, and would be the only NICHD-funded training program within Brown Medical School. The T32 will enroll 12 postdoctoral fellows (2-3 per year) for two-year terms over the five-year award. Fellows will have a PhD in a behavioral health-related field (psychology, public health/epidemiology, neuroscience) or an MD in a related specialty (psychiatry, pediatrics, emergency medicine). The program embraces an apprenticeship model where fellows work closely with one of a broad base of exceptional faculty mentors conducting innovative, NIH-funded, translational research in STAR-related areas often involving diverse, underserved and disadvantaged populations. Mentors include PhDs and MDs with a breadth of research interests and transdisciplinary expertise from psychology and psychiatry to public health, pediatrics and emergency medicine. Fellows will also obtain focused didactic training covering four critical STAR domains: (a) exposures and trauma, (b) pathways and mechanisms, (c) health behaviors and outcomes, and (d) interventions and community partnerships to promote resilience. They will also obtain rigorous foundational training in research design and statistics, grant-writing, responsible conduct of research, professional development, and cutting- edge methodological approaches. The program leverages a unique and long-standing training infrastructure and culture of collaboration within The Miriam Hospital and the Brown Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, allowing for a large base of trainee colleagues, faculty experts, didactics and support. More than 90% of past fellows with STAR mentors have gone on to successful, research-intensive careers, with numerous publications obtained during postdoctoral fellowship. The T32 will also enhance and leverage Brown?s track record of recruitment of highly accomplished trainee candidates, with plans in place for focused recruitment of racially/ethnically and socio-economically diverse fellows. The STAR T32 fits with the mission of the NICHD Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch, including a focus on collaborative and translational research to promote discoveries, and preventing, treating, and reducing all forms of childhood trauma.
Childhood stress and trauma are pernicious public health problems linked to increased risk for an enormous array of behavioral and psychiatric disorders and chronic medical conditions across the lifespan. However, progress toward prevention and intervention to reduce the toll of childhood stress and trauma and promote resilience is limited by the small number of researchers trained to conduct translational, developmentally- informed research focused on mechanisms and health consequences of childhood stress and trauma. Training a cohort of diverse researchers to conduct cutting-edge, rigorous research in childhood stress, trauma and resilience is critical to improve childhood health and prevent disease.