Announcing ITR summer fellowship recipients

The Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2017 Translational Summer Research Fellowships. The four (corrected from an earlier e-mail, which stated three) fellowships help graduate students pursue collaborative research projects involving the development or expansion of evidence-based prevention or treatment interventions in children’s mental health.

The fellowship program supports ITR’s mission to bridge the vast gap between research and practice in children’s mental health. The range of the four projects reflects ITR’s commitment to bringing together researchers from across disciplines to solve problems.

One project will look at the effects of the “Early Risers” intervention on homeless families and identify which family characteristics predict differential responses. In another researchers will examine parents’ cognitive emotion regulation and its impact on child functioning. Using data from the military-parent-focused ADAPT intervention, one fellow will examine how parents’ inhibitory control might boost or lessen benefit from the intervention. A fourth project will investigate how treatments for major depressive disorder affect brain circuits.

Parenting trajectories of homeless parents in Early Risers intervention
Student: Sun-Kyung Lee | ITR faculty advisor: Timothy Piehler

Background: Homeless parents’ life stressors include negative parenting and high risk of exposure to child maltreatment, violence, mental illness and substance use (Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos, & Medhanie, 2008). The behavioral and emotional problems of children in homeless families are greater than children with low socioeconomic status and those in permanently housed communities (Lee et al, 2010). The purpose of this study is to examine intervention effect and identify what family characteristics predict differential responses to the parenting practices outcome in a preventive intervention. (Full proposal)

Parent self-regulation, parenting quality, and child behavioral outcomes in homeless families
Student: Alyssa Palmer | ITR faculty advisor: Daniel Berry

Background: The goals of the proposed project are to determine (1) whether parent adversity is related to parent cognitive emotion regulation and parenting quality in families experiencing homelessness, (2) whether parent cognitive emotion regulation moderates the relationships between adversity and observed parenting quality, and (3) whether the aforementioned associations impact child functioning in addition to the predicted direct influences of parent emotion regulation. This project involves secondary data analysis and behavioral coding of parent child interactions. The sample includes 105 caregivers and their 4- to 7- year old children who were recruited over a summer from two urban homeless shelters for a study on parenting and school readiness. (Full proposal)

Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as moderator
Student: Jingchen Zhang. ITR faculty advisor: Abi Gewirtz

Background: The goal of this study is to examine how parents’ inhibitory control might boost or lessen benefit from a military parenting program. Children in military families in which a parent has been deployed may be at increased risk of depression, anxiety and externalizing behavior problems (Chartrand, Frank, White, & Shope, 2008). After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT; PI: Abigail Gewirtz) is a parent training program tailored to the specific needs of military families whose goal is to enhance effective parenting practices, thus reducing children’s adjustment problems (Gewirtz, & Davis, 2014). (Full proposal)

Pre-post medication brain functional network changes in adolescent MDD
Student: Shu-Hsien Chu. ITR faculty advisor: Bonnie Klimes-Dougan

Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious illness that occurs in 11% of adolescents (Avenevoli, Swendsen, He et aI JAACAP, 2015) and is associated with tragic outcomes including chronic adult disability and suicide. While some evidence-based treatments are available such as antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, these interventions are only successful in reducing depression in about half to two-thirds of cases. Research is urgently needed to better understand the biological roots of adolescent depression and to develop improved treatments. This project will explore functional network changes exerted by currently-standard treatments. (Full proposal)