Research

Mission Statement

The Center for Translational Neuroscience (CTN) at the University of Oregon has the mission of translating discoveries in basic neuroscience, psychology, and related disciplines to improve well-being, promote resilience, and mitigate the effects of early adverse experiences on physical and emotional health. CTN houses research projects, science communication initiatives, professional development, and intervention program development, implementation, and evaluation activities. The primary leadership of CTN are faculty in the Department of Psychology, where CTN is housed. Affiliated faculty work in departments across the university. In addition to faculty, CTN is home to numerous postdoctoral research associates, masters and doctoral graduate students, undergraduate research assistants, and University of Oregon employees.

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).