Our ultimate goal is for replicated research findings to exert a significant and lasting beneficial impact on child development, family functioning, and community scaffolding.


Dr. Diana Fishbein

I have devoted my career to the exploration of interactive influences on human behavior with a focus on the etiology and developmental trajectories of psychopathological states and traits.  Before the term ‘transdisciplinary’ was coined, my goal was to obtain an education and capabilities in multiple disciplines.  It was my intention to employ a range of methodologies in an integrative fashion to explore and understand innate individual differences in various social contexts.  Over my 30 year career, I have remained in the trenches, actively engaged in research, gaining direct knowledge of participants and communities impacted by environmental and social disparities, and striving to understand their effects on child and adolescent neurodevelopment.


My research has since contributed to the understanding that individual differences in risk for behavioral problems can only truly be understood by recognizing that our orientation to and processing of environmental inputs rely integrally upon genetic and neurobiological mechanisms.  These underlying mechanisms, in turn, interact with the quality of our

psychosocial and environmental exposures to alter trajectories either towards or away from poor overall outcomes.  A parallel body of research further suggests that neural dysfunction underlying behavioral disorders, regardless of its origins, may be malleable and, relatedly, that compensatory mechanisms can be strengthened with targeted, evidence-based psychosocial interventions.  Findings of this nature have extraordinary potential mental and public health significance.

This passion resulted in the creation of P-TRAN, an exciting, innovative and meaningful program of research and a facilitative mechanism to transfer scientific findings to communities and policy-makers.  Our Program applies a transdisciplinary and translational neuroscience approach as the foundation for cutting-edge research, practice and policy.  We aim to integrate theoretical perspectives and empirical methods to: (a) elucidate etiological underpinnings of psychopathology from a developmental perspective; (b) identify underlying mechanisms of behavioral change in response to intervention; (c) inform more targeted and personalized strategies to reinforce adaptive neurobehavioral responses, compensatory systems, and inhibitory mechanisms; and (d) actively transfer that knowledge base in an actionable format to guide public and private sector investments.  Ultimately, the intention is for our research to exert a significant and lasting impact on child development, family functioning and community scaffolding.

Housed in the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State, P-TRAN provides a supportive research infrastructure and breadth of scientific inquiries and capabilities to achieve the mutual objectives of our members and affiliates including, for example, genomics, epigenetics, and neuroscience, to intervention and educational innovations, technological and analytical advances, and public health policy.  Collaborations with a diverse faculty and student body conducive to this transdisciplinary and translational effort are integral to our growth; our team science approach prioritizes

reciprocal collaborations and student/early career mentorship.  The environment at Penn State provides fertile ground to further elaborate upon this unprecedented and forward-thinking research model.  For example, P-TRAN is positioned to apply its basic science findings to the development and refinement of innovative preventive programs and policies to exert a global influence.  My drive to pursue this innovative line of work is based on the direct implications such studies have for improving prevention, treatment and public health strategies by translating science to practice.