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Director’s Innovation Speaker Series: Addressing Social Determinants to Optimize Infant Brain Development


January 18, 2022




Cynthia Rogers, M.D.  provided an overview of adverse exposures and their influence on child development, discussing exposure to poverty, crime, and pre-and postnatal exposures to psychopathology and substance use. Dr. Rogers also discussed ongoing longitudinal studies examining the role of social determinants on neonatal brain development, subsequent social-emotional development, and prevention and intervention strategies to optimize child development.


Read the transcript.

About Dr. Cynthia Rogers

Dr. Rogers is a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity at Washington University. Dr. Rogers also co-directs the Washington University Neonatal Development Research (WUNDER) group. This multidisciplinary lab uses multimodal MRI to understand how adverse exposures like poverty, structural racism, prematurity, and prenatal substance use affect the brain at birth and alter brain development across childhood in racially and socio-demographically diverse populations. Clinically, Dr. Rogers is a perinatal and child psychiatrist and co-directs the Washington University Perinatal Behavioral Health Service.

About the Director’s Innovation Speaker Series

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) established the Director’s Innovation Speaker Series to encourage broad, interdisciplinary thinking in the development of scientific initiatives and programs, and to press for theoretical leaps in science over the continuation of incremental thought. Innovation speakers are encouraged to describe their work from the perspective of breaking through existing boundaries and developing successful new ideas, as well as working outside their primary area of expertise in ways that have pushed their fields forward. We encourage discussions of the meaning of innovation, creativity, breakthroughs, and paradigm-shifting.

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