Barry Lester, PHD
Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Professor of Pediatrics
Deptartment of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Department of Pediatrics, Director, Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk
Work: +1 401-453-7640
Barry 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.
BiographyBarry M. Lester, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior and Pediatrics at Brown Medical School. He is founder and Director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk at Women & Infants Hospital, and Brown Medical School. The Center provides research and clinical services for infants at risk and their families as well as research and clinical training. Dr. Lester received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Michigan State University in 1973. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. His specialty is developmental processes in infants at risk, including infants with prenatal substance exposure. He is particularly interested in the interplay between the biological, parenting, and social environmental forces that drive development. His research has been supported by NIH grants for over 30 years. A past member of NIH study sections, Dr. Lester is currently a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. He is past president of the International Association for Infant Mental Health. He is the author of more than 200 scientific publications and 16 books.
Research DescriptionBarry Lester is primarily interested in 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, marihuana 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 though 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.
Grants and AwardsMember, National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 2004 - 2008.
Social Science Research Council postdoctoral Fellowship for research and training in pediatrics, 1976.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) National Research Service Award for research with high risk infants and training in pediatrics, 1976-1978
AffiliationsFellow, American Psychological Association, Division of Developmental Psychology
Society for Research in Child Development
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Interamerican Society of Psychology
Society for Pediatric Psychology
Society for Pediatric Research
Funded Research1. Principal Investigator, University of Florida Graduate School.
Equipment grant for spectral analysis of infant cry sounds. 1974.
2. Principal Investigator, Social Sciences Institute, University of Florida.
Cross-cultural study of newborn behavior in Puerto Rico and Florida. 1974.
3. Principal Investigator, Sigma Xi.
Effects of high risk factors on neonatal behavior. 1975.
4. Principal Investigator, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Center for Population Research.
Contract for cross-cultural study of teenage pregnancy and neonatal behavior. 1977-1979.
5. Co-Investigator, NICHD.
Longitudinal study of the development of preterm and full-term infants. 1977-1980.
6. Co-Investigator, Grant Foundation.
Development and assessment of infant behavioral organization during the first five months of life. 1978-1981.
7. Principal Investigator, March of Dimes.
Psychophysiological correlates of the organization of infant behavior. 1979-1981.
8. Co-Investigator, Spencer Foundation.
Effects of maternal obstetrical medication on neonatal behavior. 1979-1981.
9. Co-Investigator, Spencer Foundation.
One year follow-up of effects of maternal obstetrical medication. 1981-1983.
10. Co-Investigator, Maternal and Child Health (MCH).
Longitudinal data analysis of behavior in term and preterm infants. 1981-1983.
11. Principal Investigator, March of Dimes.
Physiological correlates of neonatal behavior in preterm and term infants. 1981-1983.
12. Principal Investigator, NICHD R01HD21013.
Detection of later handicap via Infant Cry Analysis. 1985-1988.
13. Principal Investigator, Ford Foundation.
Feeding intervention with infants suffering from prenatal malnutrition. 1985- 1989.
14. Program Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 1T24MH18809.
Training Program in Psychosocial Intervention with High Risk Infants. 1986-l988.
15. Co-Investigator, NICHD-CRMC-8512.
Identification of Infants at Greatest Risk for Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. 1986-l99l.
16. Co-Investigator, NIMH 2 R44 HD20737-02
Cry Analysis as a Screening Test for SIDS and Handicap. 1987-1989.
17. Co-Investigator, MCH MCJ-440569-01-1
Behavioral Intervention with Intrauterine Growth Retarded Infants. 1988-1990.
18. Principal Investigator, Ross Laboratories.
Infant Crying. 1991-1992.
19. Principal Investigator - Providence Site - NICHD, SRC 1U10-HD27904-1.
Effects of Maternal Lifestyle During Pregnancy on Acute Neonatal Events and Long-Term Neurodevelopmental Outcome of Infants: A Prospective, Multisite, Randomized, Controlled, Clinical Trial. 1992-2002.
20. Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health (NIH)/NICHD, NO1-HD-2-3159,
Development and Implementation of a Plan to assess the neurodevelopment of infants and children exposed to drug in utero. September 1992September 2002.
21. Principal Investigator, Ross Laboratories.
Effective Fiber Formula and Psychosocial Intervention in the Treatment of Colic. 1994-1996.
22. Principal Investigator, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Data Base of Research on Prenatal Drug Exposure and Child Outcome. 1996-1999.
23. Principal Investigator, NICHD, NO1-HD-2-3159.
Neurodevelopmental Battery for the Maternal Lifestyle Study. September 1997-March 2004.
24. Principal Investigator, The Gerber Foundation.
Feeding Problems in Infants with Colic. December 1997-November 2000.
25. Principal Investigator, The Roddy Foundation.
Study of Fetal Behavior and Development. December 1997-December 2000.
26. Principal Investigator, Roy T. Morgan Foundation, Inc., Boarder Baby Development Program. October 1998.
27. Principal Investigator, Frank B. Hazard General Charity Fund, Boarder Baby Development Fund. March 1999.
Intensive Care Unit Early Discharge Program: Assessment of Benefit to Premature Infants and Their Families. September 1999-August 2000.
29. Principal Investigator, The Robert Wood Johnson Local Initiative Funding Partners Program in partnership with The Fred M. Roddy Foundation and The Roy T. Morgan Foundation, 039729.
Vulnerable Infants Program of Rhode Island (VIP-RI). August 2000July 2004.
30. Principal Investigator, The Gerber Foundation.
Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate Intervention for Infants with Colic and Their Families. September 2000-Present.
31. Co-Investigator, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 00-0010.
Development and Formative Evaluation of Motivational Enhancements for a Stage-Based Expert System Driven Smoking Cessation Intervention for Low-Income Pregnant Women. October 2000-August 2003.
32. Principal Investigator, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACF), 90-CB-0104.
The Court, AFSA, and drug-exposed infants: The Vulnerable Infants Program of Rhode Island. October 2000-September 2004.
33. Principal Investigator (Subcontract Providence), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 5 RO1-DA-12220-04.
Methadone and Buprenorphine: Ante- and Post-Partum. December 2000November 2004.
34. Principal Investigator, NIDA, 1-RO1-DA14948-01.
Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and Child Development. September 2001-August 2006.
35. Principal Investigator, NIDA, 2 U10 HD27904-12S1.
Neuroimaging in Drug Exposed Children. October 2001-September 2004.
36. Principal Investigator, NIH-NICHHD, U10-HD027904.
Multi-Center/Maternal Life Style Study. April 2002-March 2006.
37. Co-Investigator, NIMH, 1-K23-MH65479.
Maternal Antidepressant Use and Fetal Neurobehavior. June 2002 May 2007.
38. Co-Investigator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 6-H79-TI14116-02-1.
Grant Program to Provide Treatment Services for Family, Juvenile, and Adult Treatment Drug Courts. January 15, 2003-January 14, 2006.
39. Principal Investigator, NICHD, 3-U10-HD27904.
Maternal Lifestyle Study 9-11 Year Follow-Up. April 2003-March 2006.
40. Co-Investigator, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), 2-R01-NR003695.
Longitudinal Trajectories of Adolescents Born Preterm. July 2003- March 2008.
41. Principal Investigator, NICHD, NO1-HD-2-3159.
Neurodevelopmental Battery for the Maternal Lifestyle Study. September 2002-September 2007.
42. Principle Investigator NIDA, 1 RO1 DA015778-01.
Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (M.O.T.H.E.R). April 2005-March 2010.
43. Principle Investigator, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
After ASFA: Outcome of the Rhode Island Family Treatment Drug Court. November 2004-October 2007.
44. Principal Investigator, DHHS Children's Bureau, ACF, 90-CD-0157.
The Vulnerable Infants Program 2 of Rhode Island (VIP2). October 2005 September 2009.
Seminar on grant writing.
- Lester, B.M. with Catherine O'Neill Grace. 2005. Why is My Baby Crying?: The Parent's Survival Guide for Coping with Crying Problems and Colic. B.M. Lester, eds. Barnes & Noble. (2005)
- Lester, B.M., Andreozzi, L., Appiah, L. Substance Use During Pregnancy: Time For Policy To Catch up With Research. Harm Reduction Journal, 2004 Apr 20;1(1):5. (2004)
- Lester, B.M., Tronick, E.Z. (Eds). The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS). Supplement to Pediatrics, Mar. 2004, Vol 113 pgs. 631-699. (2004)
- Law, K.L., Stroud, L.R., LaGasse, L.L., Niaura, R., Liu, J., Lester, B.M. Smoking during pregnancy and newborn neurobehavior. Pediatrics, 111(6), 1318-1323, 2003. (2003)
- 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. (2002)
- Allister, L., Lester, B.M., Carr, S. & Liu, J. The effects of maternal depression on fetal heart rate response to vibroacoustic stimulation. Developmental Neuropsychology, 20(3), 639-651, 2001. (2001)
- Lester, B.M., ElSohly, M., Wright, L.L., Smeriglio, V.L., Verter, J., Bauer, C.R., Shankaran, S., Bada, H.S., Walls, H.C., Huestis, M.A., Finnegan, L.P., & Maza, P.L. The Maternal Lifestyle Study: Drug use by meconium toxicology and maternal self-report. Pediatrics, 107(2), 309-17, 2001. (2001)
- Lester, B.M., LaGasse, L.L., & Seifer, R. Cocaine exposure and children: The meaning of subtle effects. Science, 282, 633-634, 1998. (1998)
- Corwin, M.J., Lester, B.M., Sepkoski, C., Peucker, M., Kayne, H., & Golub, H.L. Newborn acoustical cry characteristics of infants subsequently dying of SIDS. Pediatrics, 96(1), 73-77, 1995. (1995)
- 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. (1995)
- Lester, B.M., Cucca, J., Andreozzi, L., Flanagan, P., & Oh, W. Possible association between Fluoxetine Hydrochloride and colic in an infant. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32(6), 1253-1255, 1993. (1993)
- Lester, B.M., Boukydis, C.F.Z., Garcia-Coll, C.T., & Hole, W.T. Colic for developmentalists. Infant Mental Health Journal, 11(4), 321-333, 1990. (1990)
- Lester, B.M., Hoffman, J., & Brazelton, T.B. The rhythmic structure of mother-infant interaction in term and preterm infants. Child Development, 56, 15-27, 1985. (1985)
- Lester, B.M. Cardiac habituation of the orienting response to an auditory signal in infants of varying nutritional status. Developmental Psychology, 11, 432-442, 1975. (1975)