Human outcomes are determined by a complex interplay of biological and social processes. Biosocial Interactions—the newest of OPR’s primary research areas—focuses on three principal topics: allostatic load, epigenetics, and telomere length.
It has long been known that exposure to stress increases allostatic load through the release of cortisol and other steroids into the bloodstream. When exposure to stress becomes chronic (for example, because of violence and instability within families, neighborhoods, or schools), an excessive allostatic load may be produced with far-reaching negative effects on health, behavior, and cognition (Goldman; McLanahan, Notterman).
New scientific work also indicates that genes are not simply inherited and automatically expressed, but are turned on and off through interactions with the environment. For both animals and human beings, the critical environment is social, and exposure to advantage or disadvantage because of one's structural position in society can strongly affect gene expression (Conley; Altmann). Indeed, research indicates that methylation triggered by environmental interactions may permanently modify genetic material in ways that can be inherited.
Finally, research on telomeres illustrates how exposure to stressful environments can affect health and wellbeing at the chromosomal level. Telomeres are nucleotide sequences found at the ends of each chromatid. They protect the ends from deterioration and possible mingling with other strands of DNA or RNA. With repeated cell divisions in the course of normal aging, telomeres are progressively shortened, thereby increasing the likelihood of abnormal outcomes and adverse medical conditions. Exposure to chronic stress is another factor that can hasten the shortening of telomeres.
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Hendi, Arun S. 2019. “Proximate Sources of Change in Trajectories of American First Marriage, 1960-2010.” Demography 56(3): 835-862. (PMCID: PMC6827978)
Qin B, Babel RA, Plascak JJ, et al. Neighborhood Social Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer Subtypes among Black Women. Forthcoming.
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Plascak JJ, Llanos AAM, Qin B, et al. Visual Cues of the Built Environment and Perceived Stress among a Cohort of Black Breast Cancer Survivors. Health & Place. 2021;67. Publisher's Version
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Andrasfay T, Goldman N. Physical Functioning and Survival: Is the Link Weaker among Latino and Black Older Adults?. Social Science & Medicine. 2020;255. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Beltrán-Sánchez H, Goldman N, Pebley AR, Morales JF. Calloused Hands, Shorter Life? Occupation and Older Age Survival in Mexico. Demographic Research. 2020;42 :875-900. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Andrasfay T, Goldman N. Intergenerational Change in Birthweight: Effects of Foreign-born Status and Race/Ethnicity. Epidemiology. 2020;31 (5) :649-658. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gaydosh L, Belsky D, Glei D, Goldman N. Testing proposed quanitifications of biological aging in Taiwanese older adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Verissimo J, Rugg MD, Pullman MY, et al. Early-Life Education May Help Bolster Declarative Memory in Old Age, Especially for Women. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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Dalton Conley - Connected Learning Research Network
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Dalton Conley - GxE and Health Inequality Over the Life Course
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Noreen Goldman - New Jersey Alliance for Clinical Translational Science: NJ ACTS
Noreen Goldman - Social Disparities in Physical Functioning by Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Status
Sara McLanahan - Beyond Abuse and Neglect: Universal Approaches to Promoting Healthy Development in the First Years of Life
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Sara McLanahan - Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing in Adolescence
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Sara McLanahan - Future of Children: "University-Agency Partnerships to Strengthen Preschool: Improving Preschool at Scale"
Sara McLanahan - Future of Children: Culture and Social Mobility
Sara McLanahan - Future of Children: Prenatal to Age Three
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Sara McLanahan - Future of Children: University-Agency Partnerships to Strengthen Preschool: Improving Preschool at Scale
Sara McLanahan - Improving Opportunities for Urban Youth: What Can We Learn from City Comparisons?
Sara McLanahan - Reducing Justice System Inequality
Sara McLanahan - The Future of Children Conference and Volume on Universal Approaches to Child Maltreatment Prevention
Daniel Notterman - Agreement #1078: Institutional Career Development Core
Daniel Notterman - Biological and Social Mediators of Child Wellbeing Among Ethnic Groups in Fragile Families
Daniel Notterman - Biopsychosocial Determinants of Sleep and Wellbeing for Teens in Fragile Families
Daniel Notterman - Epigenetic Mediation of Adverse Social Context on Stress Response, Socioemotional Development, and Health in a Population-based Study of Minority and Low SES Children and Adolescents
Daniel Notterman - Financial Distress, DNA Methylation, and Children's Behavioral Problems
Daniel Notterman - Measurement Error in Population Health Inequity Research using Novel Biomeasures
Daniel Notterman - New Jersey Alliance for Clinical Translational Science: NJ ACTS - ADMIN
Daniel Notterman - New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science: NJ ACTS
Daniel Notterman - New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science: NJ ACTS - TL1 Awards
Daniel Notterman - Reciprocal Genetic-Environmental Interactions During Childhood and Adolescence
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