Current Projects

Bio-behavioral developmental origins of adolescent substance use

Purpose: The primary goals of this study are to clarify (1) biobehavioral pathways of development and (2) biological (genetic, endocrine) -by- environmental (prenatal, parenting) interactions that predict the initiation of alcohol vs. tobacco vs. other drugs during adolescence.

Sample: The project includes secondary data analysis of three samples: the TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), a longitudinal Dutch study of 2230 adolescents followed prospectively at age 11, 13, 16 and 19 years; the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a longitudinal UK cohort study of 15,247 adolescents followed from birth to 19 years via 59 questionnaires and 9 clinical assessments (age 7-17 years); and the Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research (CEDAR), a northern US-based study following 775 families longitudinally, at child age 10-12 [11] years, 12-14 [13] years, 16 years, and 19 years.

Status: We are currently analyzing data from these studies. Some of these data are available for student research projects.

Early growth and development study

Purpose: The primary study aims are to examine how child, family, peer, and contextual processes affect children’s adjustment, and to examine their interplay (mediation, moderation) with genetic influences.

Sample: The Early Growth and Development Study is a prospective adoption study of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children recruited in two cohorts (N = 561 triads). Families are followed from birth, with data collection ongoing into adolescence. Adopted children’s siblings are also assessed. This is a multi-site study following a unique sample where children were adopted at birth into non-relative families, and the birth parents, children, and adoptive parents have been followed with repeated assessments since birth. Participants live in most of the states in the U.S.

Status: Data collection is ongoing (although the BDL is not engaged directly with participants) for both the hormone assessment and a series of short questionnaires about COVID impacts, stress, and health. Here at the BDL we are engaged in data management, documentation, and analysis. Data is available for student research projects.

Families Tackling Tough Times Together

Purpose: This “pop up” program was designed by faculty, students, staff from the college of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue with support from partners at Purdue and beyond to support families build resilience as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. See for more information.

Sample: This is primarily an outreach program that supports the development and health of families. A small group of participants (N = 80) participated in some program evaluation.

Status: Data collection is complete on the assessment portion, and we are preparing publications and presentations about our experiences with the program. The BDL has been engaged in creating content for the program, as well as data management, documentation, and analysis. Data is available for student research projects. We are also actively considering how to continue and improve this program for families in the future.

Maternal context of pregnancy project

Purpose: This pilot study had four goals: to test whether (1) prenatal maternal hair hormone concentrations are associated with subjective measures of prenatal stress, other pregnancy risks, and socio-demographic factors, and whether hormone concentrations and associations with subjective stress measures differ in pregnant compared to non-pregnant adult women (e.g., validation of hair hormone concentrations in pregnant women), (2) physiological and subjective stress is associated with birth and infant outcomes, (3) epigenetic changes in cord blood and placental tissue are associated with stress measures during pregnancy, and (4) epigenetic changes mediate and/or moderate the effects of stress measures on birth and infant outcomes.

Sample: 68 women (34 pregnant, and 34 non-pregnant women) in the Greater Lafayette area. Pregnant women were followed prospectively at 12, 26, and 38 weeks pregnant, cord blood and placental tissue was collected and assayed for methylation profiles at birth, and women and infants were followed-up at 6-months postpartum. The non-pregnant control group had three prospective visits mapping onto the pregnancy visits.

Status: Data collection, management, and documentation is complete. Data is available for student research projects.

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