Developmental Adaptations, Stress, and Health (DASH) Collaborative

Collaborative Research Projects

A primary mission of DASH is to spearhead cutting edge collaborative research projects, from pilot studies aimed at generating preliminary data to large-scale, multi-method, extramurally-funded projects that draw upon our complementary areas of expertise. Our goal is to create synergistic projects that will address innovative and impactful questions with a combination of advanced analytical methods. For example, one of our current goals is to work together to design a series of studies to rigorously testing the core tenets of the Adaptive Calibration Model (Del Giudice, Ellis, & Shirtcliff, 2011), one of more influential models currently driving research on the developmental implications of early life experiences. Although a number of published studies have addressed limited pieces of the model, we believe that a collaborative, multi-method, “team science” approach is critical for undertaking a comprehensive test of the model and dramatically advancing the state of developmental science on this topic.

The following outlines a number of investigative projects (in various stages of development) of DASH members. This partial list provides an overview of the scope of our research interests and the diversity and compatibility of our questions and methods.

  • Investigating genome-wide epigenetic signatures associated with trauma and the development of depression
  • Using structural equation models and longitudinal data to test competing causal models of the covariance between depression, trauma and polygenic methylation
  • Using existing longitudinal datasets (e.g., Add Health) to test predictions from the adaptive calibration model regarding links between early social experiences and developmental/behavioral outcomes including pubertal development, sexual debut, and externalizing behavior
  • Examining the effect of prenatal and postnatal (parenting) programming on epigenetic mediators and subsequent neurobehavioral and socio-emotional development, specifically by examining epigenetic signatures prior to and following adoption
  • Examining the long-term effects of prenatal substance exposure on adolescent and post-adolescent adjustment and behavior
  • Investigating caregiving-related contributions to the regulation of the HPA axis during childhood
  • Development and plasticity of the HPA axis among children in foster care with varying levels of early adversity
  • Investigation of the impact of early adversity, specifically physical and sexual abuse, on the development of sexual orientation and on the development of mental and physical health disparities in sexual-minority populations
  • Collecting rigorous longitudinal data, beginning in infancy, designed to track different pathways of risk and resilience through childhood and adolescence.
  • Testing links between early adversity and psychosocial development within specific clinical populations, such as self-injuring adolescents.
  • Investigating early-development biological and contextual predictors of emotion dysregulation across the life span, and investigating the factors that facilitate resilience and adaptation among emotionally-labile youth

DASH gratefully acknowledges support from the University of Utah, Consortium for Families and Health Research.