B3624 - The effect of adverse childhood experiences on multiple functional domains - 30/09/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Nichola Brydges (Thuvesholmen) | Cardiff University
Title of project: 
The effect of adverse childhood experiences on multiple functional domains
Proposal summary: 

Research over the last decade has demonstrated that alongside genetic factors, childhood adversity plays a vital role in the development of psychiatric illnesses. Several meta-analyses have shown robustly that childhood adversity is a cross-diagnostic risk factor, increasing rates of depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. Despite this association, the biological processes underlying this phenomenon are not well understood. Without this knowledge, development of effective therapeutics is impossible. The precise effects of childhood adversity on function per se (e.g. cognition, emotion, social function) are not well known. The aim of this research is investigate the links between adverse childhood experiences and later function, identifying domains which are most affected (both in psychiatric and clinically well populations). These domains will then be explored further using translational animal models and more focused human studies, uncovering underlying biological mechanisms and leading to novel treatment options for people affected by childhood adversity.

Not all individuals exposed to childhood adversity will develop psychiatric illness, and genetics is likely to play a role in determining susceptibility vs. resilience. The role that genetics plays in moderating the effects of childhood adversity on function will therefore also be explored.

Impact of research: 
This research will give us deeper insights into the type of functional domains that are affected by adverse childhood experiences, irrespective of psychiatric diagnosis. It will also illuminate the moderating effect of genetic polymorphisms, providing potential mechanisms of risk vs. resilience to mental illness following adverse childhood experiences. This is extremely important in terms of identifying new therapeutic avenues, and will guide the development of translational animal models, aimed at uncovering the biological mechanisms linking childhood adversity with impairments in function (animal work is a second component of my broader fellowship application). This will lead to informed therapeutic treatments.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 25 September, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 29 September, 2020
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity