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Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Imaging, and Behavioral Development

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The mission of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Imaging, and Behavioral Development Affinity Group is to understand what determines behavior and behavioral changes during development using nonhuman primate models and normative and clinical populations.

Quantitative Imaging and Tissue Sciences (Basser) develops and uses novel in vivo microstructural and functional MRI methods to measure changes in the developing brain with novel quantitative in vivo imaging biomarkers. These are useful in the assessment of diseases and disorders of the brain but also enable technologies in the neurosciences.

Child and Family Research (Bornstein) investigates dispositional, experiential, and environmental factors that contribute to physical, mental, emotional, and social development in people across the first three decades of life. Overall research goals are to describe, analyze, and assess the capabilities and proclivities of developing human beings, including their genetic characteristics, physiological functioning, perceptual and cognitive abilities, emotional, social, and interactional styles, as well as the nature and consequences for children and parents of family development, and children's exposure to and interactions with their physical surroundings. The researchers use experimental, longitudinal, and cross-sectional, as well as intra-cultural and cross-cultural, research designs.

Analytical and Functional Biophotonics (Gandjbakhche) uses multi-disciplinary approaches to devise functional imaging technologies and methodologies for translating benchtop studies to the bedside. For example, near infrared spectroscopy and electroencephalogram are used to assess biomarkers for a wide range of brain development abnormalities and injuries, specifically, but not limited to, cognitive and behavioral disorders in children and traumatic brain injury. The laboratory explores endogenous (scattering and absorption) and exogenous (using fluorescence probes) optical contrast mechanisms for characterizing abnormal development and function in tissues such as the placenta. They also are involved in clinical and preclinical studies aimed at characterizing growth and development of various abnormal tissues and monitoring the efficacy of their treatment using photonics methods, such as fluorescence life time and multi spectral imaging.

Intercellular Interactions (Margolis) studies viral and non-viral pathogenesis in the context of human tissues. The laboratory developed a system of ex vivo human tissues that preserves their cytoarchitecture and important in vivo functions, and it studies lymphoid, cervico-vaginal, and placenta tissues to investigate mechanisms of cell-cell, cell-pathogen, and cell-extracellular vesicles interaction under normal as well as disease conditions.

Perinatology Research (Romero) investigates pregnancy complications resulting in an excessive rate of infant mortality, conducts clinical and translational research to elucidate mechanisms of disease responsible for pregnancy complications, and develops diagnostic, prognostic, therapeutic, and preventive strategies to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes. The laboratory aims to develop methods for the diagnosis, prediction, prevention, and treatment of preterm labor, preeclampsia, fetal growth disorders, fetal death, and other obstetrical syndromes responsible for maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality.

Comparative Behavioral Genetics (Suomi) employs multidisciplinary approaches to study behavioral, social-emotional, cognitive, biological, and epigenetic development in rhesus monkeys and other primates, including humans, across the lifespan. The laboratory collects longitudinal data representing multiple levels of analysis in both naturalistic and experimental physical and social environments to generate models of developmental processes from prenatal, perinatal, infant, juvenile, and adolescent periods into early and late adulthood, across generations, to facilitate subsequent comparative analyses.

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