A recent focus of this research has been on examining how early adversity exposures (e.g., poverty, parental psychopathology, neglect, and abuse) are transduced into molecular events controlling the expression of neuroregulatory genes, which in turn guide brain development, calibrate stress reactivity, and influence the development of psychopathology.
Research being conducted at the CFW lab is evaluating how changing social context (i.e., dysfunctional parenting) alters the epigenome among at-risk children and potentially establishes a biological foundation that promotes resiliency and prevents the developmental of psychopathology.
The goal of the CFW lab's research is to determine how maladaptive DNA methylation patterns may be reversed with early intervention before stabilization of the epigenome in later development.
Epigenetic modifications to the genome allow for altered gene expression but do not change the DNA sequence and thus permit elaboration of the genome beyond what is determined by DNA base coding. The most highly studied and best characterized epigenetic modification, DNA methylation (DNAm), usually involves a direct covalent, chemical modification of a cytosine base lying sequentially adjacent to a guanine base (thus a CpG dinucleotide; G/GC).