CHILD Research Center

UC Berkeley and Children’s Hospital Oakland                             Help with Search                                           

Child Health Impacts Lifelong Development

Critical questions for the 21st century:
• How is the course of brain development affected by a child’s environment and experiences? What are the long-term consequences of brain injury during childhood?
• How can we identify as early as possible the children at greatest risk for delayed or impaired brain development? What are the most effective prevention strategies and promising interventions for these at-risk children?

Vision
• A multidisciplinary center with a unique focus: factors that alter the course of brain development – for the better or for the worse
• Multiple levels of analysis, from cellular to sociocultural

Negative influences on the developing brain
• A strong emphasis on low socioeconomic status children, the most vulnerable members of our society yet the least well-represented in basic research
• Environmental influences, many of which are linked to low socioeconomic status: exposure to toxins or substances of abuse in utero, brain injury, stress, exposure to domestic abuse, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, etc.
• Pediatric acquired brain injury: traumatic brain injury, stroke, tumor, surgery

Positive influences on the developing brain
• Brain plasticity: the potential to change the brain through experience and practice, both in healthy development and in response to brain injury
• Evidence-based treatments for pediatric patients: cognitive rehabilitation & behavior therapy, medication, electrical devices, etc.
• Evidence-based behavioral interventions for at-risk children in the community

Participating entities
• Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO): 70% of CHO patients are on Medicaid, and CHO treats hundreds of patients every year with pediatric acquired brain injury
• Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI): Basic research on brain development and plasticity, from the molecular/cellular level up to the cognitive level
• Department of Psychology: Basic research on typically and atypically developing children
• Institute of Human Development (IHD): Transdisciplinary group with members from Public Health, Social Welfare, Public Policy, Education, etc., with strengths in large-scale analysis of factors that influence child development

Sample research topics of interest to a broad audience
• Effects of chronic stress and/or low socioeconomic status on brain development
• Consequences of exposure to toxins inside and outside the home
• Recovery from brain damage, including traumatic brain injury
• Early diagnosis of brain dysfunction
• Effects of cognitive training on the brain and behavior

Fundraising targets
• Graduate & postdoctoral fellowships for interdisciplinary research across center labs
• Seed funds to gather pilot data for grant proposals from UCB-CHO collaboration
• Full-time staff member for help with:
• Grant-writing and fundraising
• Organizing lectures and courses
• Maintaining center website
• Hosting outreach activities
• Recruiting study participants