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Advancing the Understanding of Intergenerational Transmission of Depression

Meet Emily Padrutt, a second-year doctoral student in the developmental psychopathology and clinical science track in the Institute of Child Development, working with Dr. Sylia Wilson and Dr. Daniel Berry. Padrutt was recently selected as MIDB's Predoctoral Fellow in Developmental Science for 2023-24.

Emily Padrutt
Emily Padrutt

"I was very excited to learn that MIDB was offering the Predoctoral Fellowship opportunity and honored to receive the fellowship! The support provided by the fellowship will allow me to focus my time in the coming year on developing my existing research projects and growing my program of research with the mentorship of Dr. Wilson," said Padrutt. "It will also allow me dedicated time for writing and dissemination of my research projects and the opportunity to share my work at a conference in the coming year."

Padrutt's work centers on the intergenerational transmission of depression.

"I am interested in better understanding multiple processes that may increase risk for depressive symptoms among children of people experiencing depression, particularly during the sensitive perinatal period, with the goal of informing prevention efforts that target these processes," said Padrutt.

Padrutt's research with Wilson and Berry uses methodological approaches that increase causal inference, including twin studies and statistical approaches, to examine potential pathways in the intergenerational transmission of depression, with a focus on the perinatal and infancy periods and the development of self-regulation during these developmental periods. Their work leverages multiple levels of analysis, including participant reports of symptoms, behavioral observations, and physiological methods.

"I hope that our work will help us to move beyond describing an association between parent and child mental health and toward understanding the mechanisms involved in this association," said Padrutt. "There are likely multiple important mechanisms, and learning more about them has the potential to inform how and when preventive resources can be used most effectively to promote wellbeing in parents and children."

Padrutt hopes to continue these lines of research in her own lab at a research university after completing her PhD. She is also interested in pursuing career opportunities that involve using scientific findings to support the development of policies that support perinatal people and infant wellbeing.


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