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Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development

Current Research Projects

Stress and Substance Use in Young Adulthood

This project examines pathways to stress and substance use by drawing on the Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (z-proso). Participants, who were first-graders in the first study wave, and their parents and teachers repeatedly reported on children’s psychosocial experiences. At age 20, participants provided hair samples, which were assayed for markers of biologically manifested chronic stress and metabolites of various substances. The team can now link participants’ earlier experiences with their stress and substance use in young adulthood, and also address gaps in research on objective markers of substance use and stress. This interdisciplinary project is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Boris Quednow (Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich), Dr. Markus Baumgartner (UZH Forensic Pharmacology & Toxicology), Prof. Dr. Manuel Eisner (Sociology), Dr. Denis Ribeaud (Sociology), and the EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology).

Diseases of Despair in Young Adulthood: Risk, Resilience, and Prevention

This study conducts a series of secondary data analyses, drawing on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), the Great Smoky Mountains Study (GSMS), and the Fast Track study to shed light on pathways from childhood/adolescent strain to social and economic disengagement from society to despair and diseases of despair (i.e., suicidal thoughts and behaviors, illicit drug use, and alcohol problems).

Dynamic Modeling of Resilience (DynaMORE)

This project creates mechanistically targeted interventions for the primary prevention of stress-related disorders. Specifically, this research will generate a personalized in-silico model of mental health in the face of adversity. This project is conducted in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team from 10+ research centers in Europe, including with Prof. Dr. Birgit Kleim at the Department of Psychology & the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics at UZH.

Pathways from Childhood Self-Regulation to Cardiovascular Risk in Adolescence (RIGHT Track Health study)

This study tests whether and how physiological, emotional, and behavioral self-regulation during childhood predicts cardiovascular risk in late adolescence in a community sample in the United States. The study also tests whether these associations are mediated by health behaviors during adolescence (e.g., exercise, nutrition, and sleep). This project is conducted by an interdisciplinary team from Developmental, Clinical, and Quantitative Psychology, Pediatrics, Exercise Physiology, and Nutrition.

Multimorbidity in Children and Youth Across the LIFEcourse (MY LIFE) Study

This study documents the course of mental health symptoms and services use among youth with a newly diagnosed chronic physical illness (e.g., asthma, diabetes) in Canada. It also identifies biological, individual, family, and community predictors of mental disorder among these youth. This project is conducted by an interdisciplinary team from Public Health, Pediatrics, Exercise Physiology, and Developmental and Clinical Psychology.

Life-Course Model of Early Substance Use

This study tests a life-course model of early substance use in a community-representative study in the United States. The goal is to characterize both: a) the early psychosocial and biological risk and resilience environment of early substance use, and b) the long-term outcomes of such early use. This project is conducted by an interdisciplinary team from Psychology, Psychiatry, Public Health, and Biostatistics.