Stress related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression are common illnesses that result in significant suffering and disability. These illnesses frequently develop during childhood and adolescence with the typical course of anxiety preceding the later development of depression. While evidence-based treatments exist for these disorders, many individuals fail to respond to current treatments, and these disorders are frequently undiagnosed in children. The major aim of our laboratory is to understand the early life factors that contribute to the risk to develop stress-related psychiatric disorders, with a particular focus on the preadolescent period. An understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to the risk to develop these illnesses will pave the way for the development of neuroscientifically-informed new treatments. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of new treatments for children such that these interventions will alter the life-long course of suffering associated with anxiety and depression. In this regard, our laboratory uses multiple methods and works across species in a truly translational approach enabling the greatest likelihood for discovery of clinically-relevant findings.
Our research program is composed of 3 highly integrated research areas which include:
1) Human studies of children with anxiety disorders, as well as those at risk for anxiety disorders
2) Nonhuman primate studies that by nature of evolution provide excellent animal models to study human psychiatry disorders
3) Molecular studies that bring together cutting-edge tools to explore potential treatment strategies focused on directly manipulating neural circuits or specific genes implicated in mediating pathological anxiety