September 25, 2020

Ford and Pickler receive NIH R01 for study on the health effects of childhood adversity

Jodi Ford, PhD, RN, and Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN, (PIs) received a $1.1 million, three-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) for their study, “Childhood Adversity, Biopsychosocial Pathways, and Telomere Length in Adolescence.” Ohio State researchers Alai Tan, PhD, from the College of Nursing and Christopher Browning, PhD, from the Department of Sociology, are co-investigators on this study, as is Darlene Kertes, PhD, from University of Florida Department of Psychology.

This study is a secondary analysis of data from two previous, linked studies of 1,018 adolescents: an R01 primary parent study, “Adolescent Health and Development in Context,” led by Browning (PI; co-I on the new study), and an R21 study, “Linked Biological and Social Pathways to Adolescent Health and Wellbeing,” led by Ford (PI). Both studies were funded by the NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Both adverse childhood experiences and shorter telomere length have been associated with chronic disease in adulthood,” Ford said. “However, few researchers have examined the effects of adverse childhood events from birth through adolescence or at sensitive periods of development on telomere length, limiting opportunities for earlier and/or developmentally timed intervention.”

The approach will identify sub-groups of adverse childhood events across childhood and adolescence that increase adolescents’ risk for shorter telomere length as well as the extent to which biological and psychological stress pathways explain these relationships. The findings will inform the development of interventions targeted to specific exposure patterns.

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