Genetic links of adverse childhood experiences and adolescent resilience, and health behaviors
Taiwan (FMS-Taiwan) - National Cheng Kung University, Tainan
Department of Pediatrics
Yao-Jung Yang
Meng-Che Tsai
Required: English ;Accepted: French, Chinese
4 weeks
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
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Type of Research Project
- Clinical Project with Laboratory work
What is the background of the project?
Childhood maltreatment has been found associated with adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems. Our previous work has shown that minor physical anomalies, characterized by subtle phenogenetic defects arising from fetal organogenesis and continuously modifying from childhood development till pubertal maturation, are suggested as biomarkers associated with neurodevelopment. Some studies also demonstrated an important link with behavioral or emotional problems in children without an identifiable syndrome. However, genetic backgrounds are generally not included in these studies. Thus, we would like to take a deeper look at individual genetic compositions that could underlie the behavioral and developmental outcomes among children and adolescents. Combining social and biomedical methodologies could possibly facilitate better understanding of the effects childhood experiences on adolescent behaviors. This project accepts both for 4 week and 8 week- exchanges.
What is the aim of the project?
We mainly attempt to investigate the relationship between childhood experience and adolescent resilience and health behaviors, from the perspective of genetic factors as potential mediators and/or moderators.
What techniques and methods are used?
This project requires a handful combination of advanced biostatistical methods, structural equation modelling (SEM), multivariate log-linear regression analysis, in the field of genetics epidemiology. In the initial stage, we will do literature research and synthesize evidence currently available to infer the genetic factors in the link between childhood adversity, adolescent resilience and health behaviors. Further, we collected participants’ questionnaire and saliva, where genomic DNA will be extracted for quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on a select panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Finally, we will apply SEM and regression analysis to delineate the association between target genes and adolescent psychological and behavioral outcomes. We aim to understand how these SNPs explain the variability of adolescent resilience and how these genes moderate or mediate the effect of childhood adversity. In order to achieve this aim, we need first to test the association between childhood adversity, adolescent resilience and health behaviors. Further, we include the SNPs in the association test with adolescent resilience. Finally, we include all the aforementioned variables in SEM using log-linear regression allowing for multiple adjustments.
What is the role of the student?
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The trainees will know how to conduct literature search, data extract, summarize and meta-analyze the bunch of research evidence. Also, they will learn to extract genomic DNA, run the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and acquire meaningful data after quality control. Finally, they can apply these genetic information and data on the questionnaire that is relevant to adolescent behaviors, resilience characteristics, and childhood adversity, to build a sound statistical model to infer the relationship under investigation. Exchange students are encouraged to deliver the questionnaires with local students or research assistants, if participants are comfortable with using local languages. If language is an issue in administration of questionnaire, the trainees will be more focusing on data analysis and lab work.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
The trainees are expected to conduct self-directed literature search and software use, like R or AMOS. There are weekly lab meetings that are aimed to identify and solve any research problems if occurred.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- The student will prepare a presentation
- The student will prepare a scientific report
- The student’s name will be mentioned in a future publication
- The student will have the opportunity to present the results together with the supervisor at a conference
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Basic statistical and biological knowledge on genetics and genomics. Subjects passed: biostatistics/epidemiology
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
- Graduated students (less than 6 months)
- Pre-Medical students from the American-British system
- Students in biomedical fields
- Dental medicine students (IADS members)
- Minor physical anomalies in adolescents at risk for substance use and early sex. Tsai MC; Lee CT; Tsai IN; Gan ST; Liang YL; Lin SH. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Jun;97(24):e11147. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000011147.