Dr. George Slavich, Founding Director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research, has been awarded a new $3 million grant from the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, which is overseen by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR). The grant will support cutting-edge research into how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) — such as early life abuse, neglect, and divorce — affect psychological and biological processes that in turn increase risk for serious mental and physical health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In addition, the grant will fund the development of a new state-wide stress surveillance network as well as the creation of the California Stress, Trauma, & Resilience (CAL STAR) Network, which will promote evidence-based research, education, and professional training activities in the areas of life stress, trauma, resilience, and health.
According to a recent report by California Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, more than 60 percent of all Californians have been exposed to at least one ACE and nearly 17% have experienced four or more ACEs, putting them at high risk of developing mental health, physical health, and behavioral health problems. The total estimated cost of experiencing these stressors for Californians exceeds $112 billion per year. Making matters worse, ACEs are rarely assessed in the medical setting, even though identifying ACEs can be helpful for reducing risk for serious stress-related health problems.
To ensure the success of the project, Dr. Slavich has teamed up with renowned experts in psychiatry, clinical psychology, pediatrics, precision medicine, and translational bioinformatics, including: Michael Snyder, PhD, the Stanford W. Ascherman Professor and Chair of Genetics at Stanford University; Atul Butte, MD, PhD, the Priscilla Chan & Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences, and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UCSF; Patricia Lester, MD, the Jane & Marc Nathanson Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA; Alicia Lieberman, PhD, the Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health at UCSF; and Shannon Thyne, MD, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at UCLA.
Key advisors for the collaborative project include: Joyce P. Chu, PhD, Palo Alto University; Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, UC Berkeley; Michael Michalski, Burnham Benefits; Randi Hutter Epstein, MD, MPH, Yale University; and Donna Jackson Nakazawa.
Dr. George Slavich is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Division of Population Behavioral Health, at UCLA, and a Research Scientist at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where he is Founding Director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research.