Dr. George Slavich, Founding Director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research, will help lead California’s new statewide effort to reduce the impact of childhood adversity and toxic stress on health, which will be supported by a landmark $41.5 million grant from the Office of the California Surgeon General and the California Department of Health Care Services.
Research has shown that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or having a parent who is incarcerated or struggling with mental illness or addiction, are relatively common experiences that can lead to a toxic stress response in the body, which increases a person’s risk for chronic health conditions including anxiety disorders, depression, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and chronic pain. The new $41.5 million investment is California’s attempt to better understand and mitigate these effects to reduce disparities in human health and opportunity that are caused by stress.
The funding will lead to the formation of the UCLA/UCSF ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network (UCAAN), which will help clinicians on how to screen children and adults for ACEs. UCAAN will also support cutting-edge research on stress assessment, the psychobiology of stress and health, and other related educational, training, and research topics. Dr. Slavich will help lead the effort by serving as its Senior Program Director, focused on evaluating and translating scientific evidence into strategies for reducing toxic stress effects on health and behavior across the State of California.
“I’m deeply honored to help lead this historic initiative,” said Dr. Slavich. “Stress is a common cause of many major health problems but is still rarely assessed in hospitals and clinics. As Senior Program Director of UCAAN, my goal will be to develop a world-class strategy for assessing and addressing the negative effects of stress in California based on cutting-edge research.”
The work by Dr. Slavich and his team is expected to lead to routine ACEs screening and improvements in trauma-informed clinical care throughout California, and is part of California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ goal to reduce the negative effects of toxic stress by one-half in a generation. UCAAN will be led by Shannon Thyne, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Edward Machtinger, MD, Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Director of the UCSF Center to Advance Trauma-Informed Health Care.
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.