The NARSAD Young Investigator Grants are designed to allow early career scientists to gather pilot data to support innovative approaches and support their transitions to performing independent research.
Assistant professor Diana I. Simeonova, Dipl-Psych, PhD, will focus on early determinants of resilience to and risk for psychopathology in infants of mothers with bipolar disorder. The study will assess social-emotional development, resilience and oxytocin (a natural hormone involved in emotional bonding) in this high-risk population. The work aims to contribute to the development of novel early intervention and prevention approaches for mental illness. Simeonova recently received a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health for research in the same area.
Children of parents with mental illness are at an elevated familial risk for the development of emotional problems.
Diana I. Simeonova, Dipl.-Psych., Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and her team want to understand the mechanisms contributing to adaptive and maladaptive development in this vulnerable population. The overall goal of the research is to inform the development of novel evidence-based prevention and early intervention treatment approaches for high-risk children at the youngest possible age.
A recent study examining the temperament and behavior of toddlers whose mothers have bipolar disorder shows that toddlers who struggle with frustration, restraint and negative emotions may be at increased risk for behavioral problems over time. The study was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.
"The examination of temperament and behavior in toddlers of mothers with bipolar disorder represents an important area of investigation," says Diana I. Simeonova, Dipl.-Psych., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. "Better understanding of early characteristics contributing to either well-being or mental illness in this high-risk population may aid in the development of early intervention and prevention approaches."
Simeonova et al. provide the first of its kind study that examines the association between temperament and behavior in toddlers who have a parent with Bipolar Disorder. This interesting study attempts to identify temperament traits found in the offspring of bipolar parents that might a) suggest increased risk for future developmental and emotional problems and b) warrant closer monitoring.