EGDSEGDS (Early Growth and Development Study)

The Early Growth & Development Study (EGDS) is a nationwide, prospective study of birth parents and adoptive families aimed at investigating how families can help their children develop to their fullest potential. Our study builds on emerging evidence about the relationship between heredity and the family environment—that is, nature and nurture—and how the two work together and separately in child development. This study is the first of its kind to examine such issues and general adoption issues such as openness. EGDS-School follows the original sample of children with a focus on school readiness and executive functioning (basic abilities such as memory and attention). EGDS-Phase 2 examines the influences of the prenatal environment, the family environment, and heredity on child development. EGDS-NIMH examines pathways to the development of early emerging emotional and behavioral symptoms and to later psychiatric symptoms in middle childhood. The fourth and most recent phase is EGDS-Health which focuses on the eating habits and behaviors of adoptive parents, their children, and of birth parents, examining family dietary habits, food preferences, physical activities, and child growth patterns from birth to middle childhood.

familyNEAD (Nonshared Environment in Adolescent Development)

The Nonshared Environment in Adolescent Development (NEAD) project is a longitudinal study of adolescents and parents. The original aim of NEAD was to identify the nonshared environmental influences, particularly those within families that resulted in such large differences in adolescent development in siblings. This original focus was to address the question of why children reared in the same family are so different from one another. NEAD chose to focus on differences within the family by carefully measuring family relationships — between parents and children, siblings and within the couple — in an effort to better understand sources of within-family differences. NEAD was one of the first studies to take advantage of the high rates of divorce and remarriage in the United States by recruiting a sizable sample of siblings of varying degrees of genetic relatedness from stepfamilies as well as including twins and siblings from nondivorced households.The Young Adult Sibling Study (YASS) is a young adult extension of NEAD that examines relationships among the same NEAD participants and adds assessments of other relevant relationships when the siblings were young adults.

TOSS (Twin Offspring Study in Sweden)

The Twin Offspring Study in Sweden (TOSS) is a collection of studies that have examined genetic and environmental contributions in order to measure associations between family relationships and mental health have found two different patterns of results for adults and children. For children, genetic factors explain most of the covariance between parent-child relationships and child adjustment, while in adults nonshared environmental factors account for most of the covariance between marital relationships and adult adjustment. These different patterns of findings suggest that different mechanisms are involved in linking pertinent family relationships to adjustment in children and adults.


aGrants and Funding

Child Youth and Families Consortium

Methodological Innovations in Modeling Timing and Tempo of Puberty: A Multiple Cohort 50 Year Approach. (Co-Investigator with Nilam Ram: PI). Child Youth and Families Consortium Level 1 Award.

Understanding Transracial Adoption: Impacts on Birthparents, Adoptive Parents and the Adopted Child. (PI with Lori Burrington and Jessica Hoyte). CYFC Level 1 Award.

DNA and Interparental Relationship Quality during the Transition to Parenthood. (PI with Mark Feinberg & Kateryna Markova). Child Youth and Families Consortium Level 2 Award.


National Institute on Drug Abuse 

Interactions Among Environment, Genes, and Preventive Intervention in Drug Use. (Co-Investigator with Hobart Cleveland, PI). R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9/1/11-8/31/16.

Genes, Prenatal Drug Exposure and Postnatal Environment: An Adoption Study. (Principal Investigator) R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (co-funded by NIMH and Office of the Director), for 9/15/07 to 5/31/12. 


National Institute on Child Health and Human Development

Integrating Contextual, Proximal, and Individual Risks For Child Conduct Problems. (Co-Investigator with S. Alexandra Burt, PI). R01 from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, for 7/1/10 to 6/30/15.

The Early Growth and Development Study: Family Process, Genes, and School Entry. (Co-Investigator with Leslie Leve, PI). R01 from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (co-funded by NIDA and Office of the Director), for 9/1/07 through 6/30/12.

National Institute of Mental Health

Gene-Environment Interplay and Development of Psychiatric Symptoms in Children. (Co-Principal Investigator with Leslie Leve). R01 from the National Institute of Mental Health, for 9/28/10 to 8/31/15.

Vulnerability to Stress-induced Depression Post-job-loss. (Co-Investigator with George Howe, PI). R01 from the National Institute on Mental Health, for 7/1/06 to 6/30/11 (currently in 1 year no-cost extension through 6/30/12).



Alcohol Links to Brain and Behavior: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study in Penn State Freshmen. (Co-Investigator with Sheri Berenbaum, PI). Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences Pilot Project Grant.

Gene-environment Interplay of Social Contexts and Aging-Related Outcomes. (Co-Investigator with Nancy Pederson, PI). R01 from the National Institute on Aging, for 9/15/10 to 8/31/15.

Gene-Environment interplay and childhood obesity: An adoption study. (Co-Investigator with Jody Ganiban, PI). R01 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 9/1/11-5/31/16.