Research Projects

Characterizing disparities in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease risk through polygenic risk and epidemiologic factors in the Health and Retirement Survey
R01 AG055406
9/2017 – 5/2021

Our aims are to (1) determine the cumulative genetic risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s dementia (LOAD) by testing the association between cognitive polygenic scores and risk of dementia phenotype in European and African ancestries; (2) determine the polygenic effect of LOAD risk covariates from behavioral, physiological, and psychosocial domains on dementia phenotypes in European and African ancestries; and (3) test for effect modification of the association between polygenic risk and dementia phenotype in European and African ancestries by health disparities factors (sex, education, urban/rural residence).

PI: Erin Ware, Kelly Bakulski (MPI’s)
PNG Co-Investigator: Jennifer Smith

Economic and Social Research Council Longitudinal Study Review
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
12/2016 – 4/2018

The aim of the ESRC longitudinal review is to provide an evidence-based and challenge-led assessment of the future social and interdisciplinary scientific and policy-relevant needs for data to address the types of research questions for which longitudinal data has typically been used (or could be used), and the value of the life-course evidence from their longitudinal studies in comparison with other sources of evidence.

PI: Pamela Davis-Kean
PNG Co-Investigator: Sandra Tang

Effects of Poverty on Affective Development: A Multi-Level, Longitudinal Study
R01 MG103761

The objective of this project is to better understand how poverty affects biology during development and leads to psychopathology. By examining teens growing up with poverty-related stressors, the study will explicate the RDoC Sustained Threat Construct.

PI: Christopher Monk
PNG Co-Investigators: Luke Hyde, Colter Mitchell

Epigenetics of Arteriosclerosis in African American Sibships
R01 HL133221
07/2016 – 4/2020

In this application, we propose to use new and existing DNA methylation data (Aims 1-3) plus existing transcriptomic profiling (Aim 4) as cost-effective methods of identifying and studying the relationship between variation in DNA methylation across the genome and arteriosclerosis in GENOA African American sibships that are at high risk of developing various types of target organ damage from hypertension.

PI: Jennifer Smith
Co-Investigator: Erin Ware

Epigenetic Mediation of Adverse Social Context on Stress Response, Socioemotional Development, and Health in a Population-based Study of Minority and Low SES Children and Adolescents
R01 MD011716
8/2017 – 5/2022

Building on an existing representative study of children, this proposal will 1) assemble epigenome-wide data on 2,000 children at two points in time, 2) describe methylation patterns in 3 race/ethnic groups and across SES levels, and 3) explicate epigenetic associations with social adversity, biological processes, and socioemotional development.

PI: Colter Mitchell
PNG Co-Investigator: Luke Hyde, Christopher Monk, Erin Ware

Exploring Effects Of Schooling On Changes In Behavior and Neurological Indices of Children’s Executive Functioning
NSF 1356118
National Science Foundation

Bringing together methods for studying EF (executive function) drawn from developmental/educational and cognitive/neurophysiological perspectives, the goals of this school-based investigation include: 1) exploration of associations between laboratory-based measures of EF and school-based assessments of self-regulation and effortful control in school-aged children, 2) assessment of behavioral and neurological changes (through ERP measurements) in children’s executive functioning skills across the school transition, and examination of their prediction of achievement over time, 3) investigation of the impact of schooling on development of executive skills, and 4) identification of features of classroom instruction that are associated with the development of children’s EF skills.

PI: Frederick Morrison
PNG Co-Investigators: Pamela Davis-Kean

Genomic Analysis for Social-Behavioral Scientists

This R25 Research Education Program will open up the opportunity for social science researchers using data (including from the Health and Retirement Study) to integrate genomics into their research by 1) offering a training workshop with a hands-on lab component annually at the University of Michigan, 2) creating a series of online tutorials that can augment the workshop or serve as stand-alone exercises, and 3) linking these custom tools with resources already available on the web.

PI: Jessica Faul, Sharon Kardia, Colter Mitchell (Multiple PI’s)
PNG Co-Investigator: Erin Ware, Jennifer Smith

Identifying modifiable aspects of gene-by-environment interplay in later-life cognitive decline
RF1 AG055654
9/2017 – 6/2022

With the rising prevalence of dementia there is an urgent need to identify opportunities for preventing or delaying its onset. This project aims to use significant and replicated results from existing genome-wide association studies to develop novel gene-based (burden scores) and genome-wide (polygenic scores) methods to better capture genetic risk and to examine whether SES and work characteristics moderate the effect of genes on the development of dementia and cognitive decline in later life. We will evaluate how gene-by-SES and gene-by-work interplay evolves over the lifecycle, identify modifiable characteristics of SES and work, establish the direction of causality and, when possible, investigate mechanisms that give rise to interplay

PI: Jessica Faul
PNG Co-Investigators: Erin Ware

Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship 2017-2019- Colter Mitchell
Jacobs Foundation

As a Jacobs Fellow Dr. Mitchell will explore the mediating and moderating influences of multiple biological factors on the relationship between early-life social and economic context (beginning in utero until age 3) on adolescent brain structure, cognitive and socioemotional development from ages 3-15, and academic achievement at ages 9 and 15 using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing birth cohort study.

PI: Colter Mitchell

Linking Geographic Data on Food Accessibility to the PSID
Major Grant
Clark R. Smith Family Foundation

This project will create a new data source linking the geographic location of families in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) with the geographic location of supermarkets and convenience stores so that the distance families live from reliable sources of fresh and nutritious food can be calculated. The overall aim of this project is to contribute to our knowledge about the relations between food accessibility and children’s and families’ well-being in the U.S., and to provide a public good that can be used by researchers worldwide.

PI: Sandra Tang
PNG Co-Investigator: Pamela Davis-Kean

Linking Additional Years of Geographic Data on Food Accessibility to the PSID
Major Grant
Clark R. Smith Family Foundation
01/2017 – 6/2018

The purpose of this project to is to continue building a Food Access data module linking geospatial information on various food providers with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). This data module will be archived and made accessible to researchers worldwide so that they may investigate an array of food access-related research questions at a population level, thus expanding our scientific knowledge of how food accessibility relates to a range of child and family outcomes in the U.S.

PI: Sandra Tang
PNG Co-Investigator: Pamela Davis-Kean

Neurodevelopmental Pathways in Adolescent Health Risk Behavior
R01 HD075806

The expected outcomes of the proposed research will have an important positive impact in that they will provide information about the developmental mechanisms contributing to risk behaviors essential to improving and developing new preventive interventions to reduce the population health burden arising from behavioral misadventure in the adolescent and young adult years. Identifying the psychosocial, neurocognitive, and neural mechanisms that contribute to health risk behaviors holds promise for improving our ability to effectively address the significant costs of behavioral misadventure, the leading source of population health risks during adolescence.

PI: Daniel Keating
PNG Co-Investigators: Christopher Monk, Edward Huntley, Megan Patrick, John Schulenberg

Prenatal Exposures and Child Health Outcomes: A Statewide Study
UG3 OD023285
NIH/Office of the Director
09/21/16 – 08/31/18

Many important problems in child health and development may result from a mother’s diet, her infections, and chemicals in her environment while she was pregnant. We plan to study 2,000 pregnancies in detail by interviewing women in pregnancy and by saving specimens such as blood, urine and placenta. We will then assess the child’s health and development in relation to these factors, to learn what changes might be made during a woman’s pregnancy that could prevent later problems in child health and development.

PI: Michael Elliott
PNG Co-Investigator: Daniel Keating

Reciprocal Genetic-environmental Interactions During Childhood and Adolescence

The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the interplay between the social environment and individual genetic characteristics. Specifically, the project team will measure changes in telomere length and DNA methylation between ages 9 and 15 in a birth cohort sample of 4900 children.

PI: Daniel Notterman
PNG Co-Investigator: Colter Mitchell

A Social Science Collaboration for Research on Communication and Learning based upon Big Data
MIDAS/Internal Funding
University of Michigan
03/01/17 – 02/29/2020

This proposal describes a multidisciplinary collaboration organized as a program project to introduce social scientists, computer scientists, and statisticians to the methods and theories of engaging observational data and the results of structured data collections in two pilot projects in the area of political communication and one investigating parenting issues.

PI:  Michael Traugott
PNG Co-Investigator: Pamela Davis-Kean

Transition to Adulthood within its Life Course & Intergenerational Family Context

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) has collected data on the same families and their descendants for 39 waves over 47 years (as of 2015). In the 1990s, PSID began collecting rich and detailed data on children born into these families and, starting in the mid-2000s, has closely followed these children’s transition into adulthood. Young adults in PSID families become members of the Core PSID themselves and receive the full interview when they form their own economically-independent households—and are followed by the study for the rest of their lives. This Program Project will draw on, and contribute to, PSID data on the transition into adulthood within its life course and intergenerational family context through three projects and one core.

PI: Narayan Sastry
PNG Co-Investigator: Pamela Davis-Kean

Understanding the Connections among Genes, Environment, Family Processes, and Mental Health

The proposed research will dramatically advance what is known about how the local community and genetic endowments shape mental health and families. This information will advance policies and services designed to reduce psychiatric disorders, support families and improve health.

PI:  William Axinn
PNG Co-Investigator: Colter Mitchell