Research

Mission Statement

The mission of the CTN is to translate knowledge from basic neuroscience and apply it to improve well-being, promote resilience, and mitigate the effects of early adverse experiences. Activities at the CTN address scientific issues of social importance with the goal of informing policy and practice. Core focal areas include, but are not limited to, poverty and maltreatment and their effects on addiction and mental health disorders. CTN takes a lifespan development approach to understand how specific brain and biological systems are affected by genetic and environmental influences. The knowledge obtained from this work is deployed in the development of evidence-based practices and science-informed public policy. An emphasis is placed on using experimental designs to help understand mechanisms and individual differences in response to interventions. The CTN employs successive iterations of neuroscience research, theory building, and practice to drive the scientific knowledge base forward. The CTN interfaces with other Centers and departments at the UO, including the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging, in the fulfillment of its mission. Relevant to the CTN mission is a focus on training at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels in neuroscience-informed approaches to prevention and intervention. Researchers and staff at the CTN embrace a collaborative, multidisciplinary, team-based approach in all of their activities. Like its parent Prevention Science Institute, the CTN is a multi-disciplinary center that includes faculty from several colleges and units on campus, including the Department of Psychology and the College of Education.

Ten Principles of Translational Neuroscience

  1. Identify environmentally malleable neurobiological functions, circuits, and systems that underlie behavioral risk and resilience.
  2. Focus on central processes (e.g., executive function, reward) broadly implicated in well-being and maladjustment.
  3. Emphasize developmental processes, sensitive periods, and inflection points that may inform intervention strategies.
  4. Use intervention trials to test theories that connect causes to outcomes via underlying neurobiological mediators.
  5. Include rigorous measurement of contextual factors (e.g., poverty, neighborhood, culture) that confer risk or resiliency.
  6. Apply precision interventions that are (a) tailored to individuals based on biobehavioral characteristics, and (b) grounded in robust neuroscience.
  7. Prioritize those neurobiological models that parsimoniously add explanatory power to behavioral theories and evidence.
  8. Emphasize on applications of neuroscience to interpersonal processes such as co-regulation.
  9. Elucidate linkages between physical health and mental health (e.g., immune system, inflammation, neuroendocrine system, autonomic nervous system, and gut microbiome).
  10. Select neurobiological methodologies and measures based on their suitability to the hypotheses being tested.

History and Background

The CTN brings together faculty whose interests span basic neuroscience methods such as neuroimaging, neuroendocrine research, and psychophysiology with those interested in evidence-based prevention and intervention programs. The CTN evolved within the Prevention Science Institute to reflect the synergy between these two related areas of science. Researchers at the University of Oregon have been on the forefront of this evolution, and are recognized for their federally funded research studies that integrate neuroscience and intervention. The CTN will provide a formal intellectual home and international resource for ongoing collaborative research and translation of basic and applied science in the service of prevention.

Research Foci

The CTN research foci are on the explication of neural systems that are susceptible to environmental influences including both risk factors and interventions, the development of precise neurobiologically-informed theoretical models that specify targets for preventive interventions, the development and experimental evaluation of interventions based on these theoretical models, and the identification of individual, family, and community-level variables that are associated with variations in the impact of interventions.

Graduate Education

A core mission of the CTN is to enhance interdisciplinary education in translational neuroscience. The CTN provides multiple opportunities for graduate training by housing a training grant to support both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees; obtaining pre-doctoral minority supplements to support qualified minority doctoral students; and providing mentorship and support for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty to submit applications for independent funding (e.g., NRSA & NSF fellowships, foundation fellowships).