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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

February 13, 2001 Contact: Sharon Butler (312) 355-2522; sbutler@uic.edu


UIC has created a new interdisciplinary research unit called the Center for Developmental Psychobiology to explore mind-body interactions through the life-span. Stephen Porges and C. Sue Carter, world-renowned researchers in the field, joined UIC this month and will serve as codirectors. Their appointments are subject to approval of the Board of Trustees.

Part of UIC's Institute for Juvenile Research, the center will be an intellectual magnet for scientists interested in social behavior, behavioral pathology, developmental disorders and emotional regulation from several disciplines, including endocrinology, neuroanatomy, neurobiology, psychiatry and psychology. For Porges and Carter, who are married to one another, the establishment of the center at UIC fulfills their career-long goal of creating an interdisciplinary research center with talented colleagues who share their dedication to studying neurobiological models of social behavior and translating this knowledge into treatment strategies for clinical populations.

Social and behavioral sciences have long tried to explain and treat such urgent clinical problems as autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, rage, conduct disorders and attention-deficit disorders. "Unfortunately, we still do not understand the causal mechanisms underlying these disorders," Porges said. "We know little about the factors that make one individual vulnerable and another resilient. Treatments based on behavioral, psychological and pharmacological models have had limited success but have fallen far short of the ideal."

An alternate model is needed that incorporates our understanding of human neurobiology and how neurobiological states mediate and regulate behavior and the range of psychological experiences, Porges said. The new center's research will focus on applying neurobiological principles and knowledge in developing explanations and treatments for dysfunctional behavior.

"Porges and Carter are real stars in the world of psychobiology," said Dr. Joseph Flaherty, head of psychiatry. "They and their research expand the collective research efforts here in uncovering the mechanisms that govern human behavior and well-being. Their work will bring significant contributions to a biopsychosocial model of understanding the development of normal and pathological behavior."

Porges and Carter come from the University of Maryland, where Porges was chair of the department of human development and director of the Institute for Child Study and Carter was a distinguished university professor in the department of biology. Porges has been active in several national and international professional organizations. He has served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and is currently the president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Studies, a consortium of 20 prominent research-oriented societies. He is a fellow of several divisions of the American Psychological Association and a charter fellow of the American Psychological Society.

Porges has been awarded numerous research grants from organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Federal Human Resources Service Administration, the Unicorn Children's Foundation and Cure Autism Now. He currently has a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the neurobiology of social development in children. He has been awarded a patent for a methodology that enables the dynamic assessment of the neural regulation of the heart. The methodology is being used in more than 100 laboratories worldwide. Porges is currently conducting research on a new biologically based behavioral intervention designed to enhance the social behavior of autistic children. He has written or contributed to more than 200 academic journal articles and publications.

Carter's research has focused on the biology of attachment behavior, particularly in relation to hormones like oxytocin. In addition to her ongoing research supported by the National Institutes of Health, Carter is writing a book on the biology of monogamy. Carter is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for Behavioral Neuroscience. She is a member of the Animal Behavior Society, the International Academy of Sex Research, the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology, the International Society for Neuroendocrinology and the Society for Neurosciences.

She has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and currently directs a large program project grant sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that examines the developmental consequences of oxytocin. Carter has written or contributed to more than 200 academic journal articles and publications.

For more information on UIC's department of psychiatry, see www.psych.uic.edu

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