Welcome to the Developmental Research Lab!
Our lab is located in Building 500 on the
Anschutz Medical Campus. We study the relationship between early brain
development and mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder,
Bipolar Mood Disorder, and Depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Our current research focuses on the dietary
supplement called phosphatidylcholine (PC) and its potential to improve early
brain development in children whose mothers were given the supplement during
pregnancy. PC is a form of choline, also
called Vitamin B4 or Vitamin J. Choline
is a naturally occurring substance that has been identified as an essential nutrient
by The Institute of Medicine and can be found in different foods such as milk,
liver and eggs. It is good for normal growth everywhere in the body, including
Though most people get enough choline in their
diet, more PC may be needed while a woman is pregnant as her baby is rapidly developing new cells. As women produce
their own choline within their body, most pregnant women naturally have enough choline or
get it from their diet for their baby to grow normally. However, some babies may benefit from having their
mothers consume additional PC to fill any gaps. Our research is looking to see if PC
supplementation is helpful in the long-term development of children.
In order to answer the bigger questions
regarding the benefits of added PC in children, our research is focused on
asking the following ones along the way:
- What is the stress level for the mother during and after pregnancy?
- How is development different between the group of mothers taking the PC supplement and the group of mothers who do not?
- What is the impact of genetics, nutrition, and environment on brain development?
- What parts of the brain increase risk for mental illnesses?
- How do we measure brain changes as a child ages?
- Can we use the answers to these questions to devise new and better treatments for different mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia)?
- Can we find ways to decrease the number of people who get these major mental illnesses?
To answer these questions, we need the help of
families from pregnancy through early childhood. Participation of pregnant women and their families is greatly
appreciated and their role is key in answering our questions.
need families that span the spectrum: those with no family history of major
psychiatric illnesses, those with a family history or individual diagnosis of
major psychiatric illnesses such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder, and
those in between.
Please learn more by reading our 'Current Study' section!