The Brown Center For The

Study Of Children At Risk

Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk
50 Holden Street
Providence RI 02908

Academic Administration:
(401) 453-7640

Clinical Services:
(401) 274-1122
x8936 or x8935

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Barry M. Lester, PhD - Director

Dr. Lester is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk.  Dr. Lester’s research is on the study of developmental processes in children at risk.  This includes children at risk because of biological factors and children at risk due to social factors.  Risk is broadly defined and includes cognitive and academic deficits, antisocial behavior, psychopathology and substance use onset.  We have studied biological factors such as prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation, and prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs (cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine).  Social factors include poverty, home environment and parenting factors.  The study of the interplay between biological and social factors provides an understanding of the mechanisms that determine developmental outcome.  We have used interdisciplinary longitudinal research designs starting in the fetal and infancy periods to study the unfolding of developmental processes in normal and at risk children through adolescence.  We use both standardized tests and have developed our own neurodevelopmental measures to see how children react under mild stress.  We also use cross-cultural designs to study “naturalistic” experiments in environmental and parenting conditions.  Translational research includes the study of treatment for behavioral disorders in infancy and early childhood and social policy research involving the judicial and child welfare systems.  Dr. Lester is currently a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse at NIDA.

Selected Publications

  • Lester, B.M., LaGasse, L.L., & Seifer, R.  Cocaine exposure and children: The meaning of subtle effects.  Science (282), 633-634, 1998.
  • Lester, B.M., Tronick, E.Z., LaGasse, L.L., Seifer, R., Bauer, C.R., Shankaran, S., Bada, H.S., Wright, L.L., Smeriglio, V.L., Liu, J., Finnegan, L.P., Maza, P.L.  The Maternal Lifestyle Study: Effects of substance exposure during pregnancy on neurodevelopmental outcome in 1-month-old infants.  Pediatrics, 110 (6), 1182-1192, 2002.
  • Lester, B.M., Boukydis, C.F.Z., Garcia-Coll, C.T., Peucker, M., McGrath, M.M., Vohr, B.R., Brem, F., & Oh, W.  Developmental outcome as a function of the goodness of fit between the infant's cry characteristics and the mother's perception of her infant's cry.  Pediatrics, 95 (4), 516-521, 1995.