Current Research

1. The dynamic interplay between women’s stress and reproductive axes across reproductive transitions

Main goal: To develop a comprehensive model of the interactions between women’s stress and reproductive physiology in natural contexts (i.e. non-clinical) across reproductive transitions and to evaluate the effects of those interactions on women’s reproductive outcomes

2. The use of cortisol as a physiologic marker of stress in women of reproductive age

Main goal: To develop appropriate methods for the use of cortisol as a physiologic marker of stress in women of reproductive age

3. Consequences of periconceptional events (COPE) for post-natal stress physiology: Integrated genetic, epigenetic and physiological analyses of fetal HPA-HPG axes programming

Main goal: To assess the effects of periconceptional maternal stress (+/- 6 weeks from conception) on the development and activity of the HPA and HPG axes in children


Collaborations

4. The impact of a home visitation on biological outcomes in infants exposed to psychosocial adversity: A longitudinal evaluation

In collaboration with: Drs. A. Gonzalez, H. MacMillan, P. McGowan, L. Atkinson, R. Barr, M. Boyle, N, Catherine, M. Ferro, S. Jack, D. Sheehan, L. Tonmyr, C. Varcoe and C. Waddell

Three primary aims: (1) to determine whether the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) has an effect on infant physiological function, as reflected in alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function and epigenetic markers; (2) to investigate whether the NFP has an impact on maternal prenatal cortisol levels and whether prenatal cortisol levels are associated with alterations in infant’s stress physiology and alterations in infant DNA methylation; and (3) to examine whether alterations in biological markers explain the impact of the NFP on infant health

5. Metabolic profiles of female reproductive aging: A comparative study

In collaboration with: Dr. Claudia Valeggia, University of Pennsylvania

Main goal: To provide baseline data on the energy allocation strategies by measuring metabolic correlates of the peri-menopausal period