We are excited to announce the funding of the STAR COBRE Center, which will serve as the only research center in Rhode Island focused on stress, trauma and resilience—a focus that is urgently needed in the wake of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families. The long-term goal of the COBRE is to develop and sustain a critical mass of investigators to establish The Miriam Hospital as a vibrant regional and national hub for transformative research into mechanisms of risk and resilience following exposure to stress, trauma and adversity.
There is increasing evidence for a profound and persistent impact of childhood stress and trauma on psychological and physical health outcomes over the lifespan. Despite the magnitude of risk associated with adverse childhood experiences, there is limited understanding of the precise mechanisms by which early adversity impacts health. The STAR COBRE is unified by a conceptual framework focused on (a) a comprehensive approach to stress and trauma exposures and (b) identifying proximal mechanisms of risk and resilience with in-vivo ecological sampling that will lead rapidly to novel and actionable intervention targets to improve health. The COBRE incorporates a life course approach, with an emphasis on sensitive periods of development—pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Our COBRE includes the following Cores:
- a Technology, Assessment, Data, and Analysis (TADA) Core that will support methods harnessing cutting-edge technology, data management, and statistics
- a Community Collaborative (C2) Core that will support partnerships with community and state agencies, and the recruitment/retention of marginalized populations
- an Administrative Core that includes a state-of-the-art mentoring and education program, and community, internal, and external advisory boards
In addition to the Cores, the COBRE includes the following project leads and research scientist recruits:
- Dr. Chrystal Vergara-Lopez (Research Project Lead) will capitalize on a 12-year longitudinal sample to investigate the impact of childhood maltreatment on adolescent cognitive control, repetitive negative thinking and mental health symptoms.
- Dr. Whitney Evans (Research Project Lead) will conduct a naturalistic experiment in children to elucidate the specific impact of food insecurity from other poverty-related stressors on diet, inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers and summer weight gain.
- Dr. Shaquanna Brown (Research Scientist Recruit) will leverage an active R01-funded longitudinal sample by integrating data from the already-funded ecological approaches with new laboratory approaches to examine the role of affect in the association between childhood adversity and adolescent substance use.