The most advanced form of collaboration where integration in thought and approach between investigators from across disciplines create new conceptual and methodological models to address a common problem
Developing an integrated network of cross-disciplinary collaborators focused on delineating the impact of adversity on neurodevelopment, and determining ways in which level of neurodevelopment may explain heterogeneity in preventive intervention behavioral health outcomes.
OUR MISSION IS TO PROMOTE RESILIENCE AND REDUCE THE RISK FOR ADVERSE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH OUTCOMES BY:
Creating a center of excellence for translational “neuro-prevention” at The Pennsylvania State University to apply neuroscientific knowledge and techniques to advance the field of prevention science and provide a supportive environment for productive transdisciplinary collaborations with direct translational applications.
The Institute of Medicine and others have called for a multi-systems transdisciplinary approach to mental, emotional and behavioral problems (MEBs). This approach is crucial if we are to significantly advance scientific knowledge and the development of successful interventions and policies to prevent and treat MEBs. Translation of findings on the
etiological underpinnings of these problems will lead to a better understanding of the significant impact of the social and physical environment on neurogenetic systems and in ways that will inform development of more personalized intervention and impactful policy strategies. See figure 1 above and note that in this model ‘translation’ is not depicted a linear series of events ranging from T0-T5; instead the model reflects the relationships between non-sequential phases of translation and demonstrates the possibility for multiple modes of ‘back-translation’.
To be successful this approach should incorporate perspectives from diverse fields, such as genetics, neuroscience, developmental epidemiology, contextual behavioral science, environmental and social sciences, clinical practice, economics, education and policy research. Moreover, it is critical that the development of this approach focuses on early developmental milestones, vulnerability factors and resiliency indicators and not solely distal psychopathological outcomes (e.g., substance abuse).
The P-TRAN Response
Effective responses to MEB problems require a far more comprehensive and transdisciplinary understanding of its etiology than has been achieved to date. Research findings are not reaching the public or policymakers in any impactful way and, as a result, we have not produced any major innovations in the prevention sciences for decades. In response, a combined transdisciplinary and translational approach is the foundation for cutting edge prevention research, practice and policy in the Program for Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment (P-TRAN)
The ultimate goal is for our research to exert a significant and lasting beneficial impact on child development, family functioning, and community scaffolding. To achieve this, P-TRAN’s primary objective is to develop a supportive translational research infrastructure for a “community” of crosscutting scientists. This community will work in concert to address critical issues in MEB prevention research, practice and policy.
Fostering collaborations across disciplines at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), from the basic sciences to the social and intervention sciences and, in turn, to practice and policy, will streamline the transfer of information and amplify impact, placing P-TRAN, the Prevention Research Center (PRC) and the University at the forefront of progress in the field.
The model for P-TRAN supports the integration of theoretical perspectives and empirical methods to:
Elucidate the etiological underpinnings of MEBs;
Identify mechanisms underlying i
Inform more targeted and personalized approaches to prevent and treat MEBs, and
Actively transfer scientific knowledge into an actionable format to inform public private sector investments.
We have a solid track record of research and the capabilities that support our studies, including those depicted in Figure 2. We emphasize the translational nature of this research and concentrate on ways in which we work to transfer knowledge from science to practice and policy to exert an impact on the phenomena under study.
Capabilities reflective of a new generation of basic and applied sciences that reside in-house at PSU and externally with collaborating entities will contribute to this large-scale program of research. This includes those under the rubric of “omics” (e.g., genomics, proteomics, epigenetics, etc.), neuroscience, health research, translational biomedicine, biochemistry, disparities research, intervention and educational innovations, technological and analytical advances, public health policy, and many others. This breadth of scientific capabilities and expertise makes the environment ideally suited to the development of this large-scale program of research, which will ultimately inform practice and policy. This process will require harnessing our rich diversity of skills and capabilities into a comprehensive, integrative effort to apply to the design, evaluation, dissemination and institutionalization of innovative programs and policies to prevent the onset and escalation of MEBs and to personalize treatments.