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Department of Psychiatry

Department of Psychology

Behavioral Immunology & Endocrinology Lab

Research Funding

Our early studies and more recent studies have led to a number of projects that involve psychiatric and medical populations.  One example includes the impact of psychiatric disorders on regulation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis during social challenges or diurnal variation in release of cortisol as measured in saliva.  We have developed a novel and compact means for collecting saliva for these samples that is well suited to field studies and minimally invasive.  This resulted in collaborations with the Space Program at NASA to investigate the potential for salivary cortisol to serve as a biomarker of stress in the astronauts during training and flight missions.  However an overarching goal is to determine how the HPA axis responds before treatment and whether it is predictive of treatment outcome and long term prognosis in patients with psychiatric disorders.  Patient populations presently under investigation include:

  • Traumatized groups (both early and adult traumas)
  • Medical patients with serous illnesses such as cancer and their caregivers
  • Adolescents with chronic illnesses (asthma/allergy)
  • Adolescent populations with affective(anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder) and eating disorders
  • Children with genetic risk factors (fragile X, autism, ADHD, Williams syndrome)
  • Adolescents with substance use disorders
  • At risk infants hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units.

Noninvasive studies of early development and the role of the quality of the early mother-infant relationship in nonhuman primates still remains an important research area of the laboratory.  Interactions between polymorphisms of genes controlling neurotransmitter activity such as the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems and the early maternal relationship and their effects on impulsivity in novel situations, social interactions, and regulation of the HPA are a particular interest in socially living macaque monkeys.  Regulation of the HPA during social challenges in transgenic mice representing a potential model of fragile x is also underway. 


 Current BIEL Grant Support:


 Improved behavioral outcome in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients by reducing caregiver distress: Behavioral and physiological evidence

Project Number: CE-1304-6208 (PI Laudenslager)
Source: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Major Goals: This randomized control trial’s goals are to learn more about the impact of scheduled stress management training on both the caregiver and their patient. This will be compared to voluntary participation in available support programs for caregivers of HSCT recipients. Outcome variables include psychosocial, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory markers.
Project Period: 10/1/13 - 9/30/16

 A psychoeducation Intervention for BMT caregivers: Biobehavioral markers and outcome

Project Number: R01 CA126971 (PI Laudenslager)
Source: NCI
Major Goals: This is a randomized control trial of a psychoeducation with stress management intervention focused only on caregivers of blood or marrow transplant recipients.  Outcome variables include psychosocial, neuroendocrine, immune, and sleep markers.
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 06/01/08 – 4/30/13

 A psychoeducation Intervention for BMT caregivers: Biobehavioral markers and outcome

Project Number: R01 CA126971 (Supplement) (PI Laudenslager)
Source: NCI
Major Goals: This is a supplement to a randomized control trial of a psychoeducation with stress management intervention focused only on caregivers of blood or marrow transplant recipients.  This supplement focuses on inflammatory markers, glucocorticoid sensitivity, and SNP analysis of GRs in caregivers of the parent grant
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 03/08/12 – 4/30/13

 Personality and Health - A Longitudinal Study

Project Number: 2R01AG020048-15 (PI Hampson)
Source: NIA
Major Goals: This is longitudinal study of successful aging and health based on personality constructs developed at age 5 in a population of Pacific Islanders. 
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 09/01/2012 – 08/31/20174

 Brain reward circuits and computational modeling in adolescent anorexia nervosa

Project number: 1 R01 MH096777-01A1 (PI Frank)
Source: NIMH
Major goals: This is a study of reward circuit imaging in adolescents with and without anorexia nervosa and the role of HPA activation. 
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project:  09/01/12-08/31/17

 Evaluation of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and the Emotional Availability Intervention: Mitigating Toxic Stress among American Indian Children in Early head Start

Project Number: 90YR0058 (PI Sarche)
Source: Administration for Children and Families       
Major Goals: This represents a partnership between the Cherokee Nation Early Head Start Program and the University of Colorado Denver, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health to understand the relationship between major environmental stressors and hair cortisol among American Indian children.
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 09/30/11 – 09/29/166

 Health services utilization analysis of BMT caregiver intervention

Project Number: K07 AG030337 (PI Kutner)
Source: NIA             
Major Goals: This is a small pilot study to investigate the impact of an intervention for caregivers of BMT patients on their behavioral and medical health care services utilization. 
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 09/01/12 – 8/31/13

 Development of maladaptive behavior

Project Number: T32MH015442 (PI Ross)
Role: Scientific Director
Source: NIMH          
Major Goals: This is long standing postdoctoral training program in developmental psychobiology
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 07/01/06-06/30/16

 Improved methods for elucidating hormonal mechanism in mental health studies

Project Number: R21MH094994 (PI Carlson)
Source: NIMH
Major Goals: This is a study to develop population based models of pulsatile hormone data, one of the most common classes of hormone data studied in mental health studies
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 06/09/2012 - 03/31/2014


 Completed Projects in the Past Three Years


 Salivary Melatonin as a Biomarker for Response to Sleep Interventions in Children with Autism

Project Number: 7498 (PI Laudenslager)
Source: Autism Speaks
Major Goals: This project develops and validates a non-intrusive method to collect salivary melatonin on filter papers using an approach previously validated for salivary cortisol.)
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 12/01/11 – 12/01/131

 Massage therapy for infants with symptoms of GERD

Project Number: R21 NR011069 (PI Neu)
Source: NINR
Major Goals: This is randomized control trial of the use of massage for 3 month old infants with gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 04/01/10 – 03/31/2013 2

 Training medical students to become research child psychiatrists

Project Number: R25 MH080859 (PI Ross)
Source: NIMH
Major Goals: This is a training program aimed at medical students to provide them with specific research and learning experiences relevant to the Medical Scholars Program
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 09/01/07 – 07/31/12

 Early experience and low 5-HT markers in alcohol abuse

Project Number: R01 AA013973 (PI Laudenslager)
Source: NIAAA
Major Goals: Elucidate the relationship between the quality of early maternal care and the polymorphism in the serotonin transporter protein and adolescent impulsive and aggressive behavior and voluntary alcohol consumption
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 07/06/04-5/31/11

 Early experience and low 5-HT markers in alcohol abuse

Project Number: R01 AA013973-05S (ARRA supplement) (PI Laudenslager)
Source: NIAAA
Major Goals: This is a supplement to the parent grant which allows for development of hair cortisol as biomarker of chronic stress as well as continued longitudinal investigation of biobehavioral impacts of early relocation challenges on a population of well characterized adolescent subjects
Dates of Approved/Proposed Project: 07/15/09-5/31/11