Executive function skills—like staying focused, flexible problem solving, and inhibiting impulses—are more predictive of kindergarten readiness and academic success than IQ. Children who don’t have them begin to falter immediately.
Professor Philip Zelazo has discovered that a potential solution to close the opportunity gap is to reliably assess executive function and intervene to help at-risk children develop these skills.
CNBD Director, Dr. Michael Georgieff, has been added to the UMN Medical School Wall of Scholarship in recognition of significant research publication contributions. Faculty listed on the Wall of Scholarship must have a primary appointment in our Medical School and be current faculty members. For work to be featured, the faculty member must have first or last author credits on a publication that has been cited at least 1,000 times as indicated by two of three major citation indices (Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science).
“This is important because while cigarette smoking is widely recognized to be harmful to one’s health, the idea that smoking does this by changing particular parts of the epigenome is new. This is the largest epigenome-wide study of smoking to date, and it shows how much and how long smoking might damage the epigenome in the general population,” said Demerath.
Demerath said the information gathered in this study could be useful because it suggests a possible biomarker of smoking exposure damage over time.
Inequality of opportunity for healthy child development is threatening the future of Minnesota and societies worldwide. As the income gap grows, says Megan Gunnar, so too does the opportunity gap for children and families.
Professor Gunnar believes that we cannot allow children to begin life at a disadvantage. That’s why she is dedicated to understanding the complex set of experiences that allow a child to thrive. After all, we get out of our children what we put into them, and a lack of positive opportunities for our children leave us all at a disadvantage.
Provost Karen Hanson has announced 29 Grand Challenges Research grants to advance the research goals of Driving Tomorrow, the Twin Cities Campus Strategic Plan.
The 29 funded research collaborations address the University's five interrelated Grand Challenges areas of special focus. The areas of focus are wide-ranging—e.g., high-tech strategies to mitigate water pollution, understanding the human stories behind the global immigration crisis, and precision medicine to fight cancer. The investments are one milestone in advancing Strategic Plan recommendations to seed and support interdisciplinary research addressing Grand Challenges through a bottom-up, faculty-driven process.
Because Toleu believes that her daughter’s early autism diagnosis has helped her get the help she needs to thrive, and because she wants other children to have the same advantages, she signed her family up to take part in SPARK, a national research study with a goal of enlisting some 50,000 people with autism and their families.
The goal of SPARK is to collect and analyze data about people with autism to advance understanding and research. Subjects and their close family members provide DNA samples so that researchers can pinpoint genetic causes of the disorder. In Minnesota, the study is led by Suma Jacob, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.
Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and director of the Institute of Child Development, has been appointed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s Early Learning Council.
The council aims to ensure that all children are school-ready by 2020. Council members “make recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to create a high-quality early childhood system in Minnesota that will help improve educational outcomes for all children.”
Three grants totaling more than $10 million — the most recent of which was bestowed on Wednesday — were awarded to three University of Minnesota-affiliated projects working to chart brain connections in different stages of life. The three projects fall under the umbrella of the Human Connectome Project, which previously mapped the brains of healthy, college-aged people. With the new grants, researchers are looking to explore the brains of younger subjects, Infant, Child, and Adolescent brain development will be the focus of this new research.