We conduct innovative research to study key issues in adolescent health and improve outcomes for all adolescents. Most adolescents across the country will never benefit from health care in an adolescent-specific and adolescent friendly program, and many of those who get health care will get it in less than optimal services. Our goal is to contribute to the health of all adolescents, so we undertake research that will benefit all. We work to develop and disseminate knowledge for the benefit of all.

Current Research Projects

Among our current research projects are a number of studies designed to improve health outcomes and resiliency among young people.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Adolescent Girls

Some strains of the HPV virus are now known to be related to cervical cancer. This groundbreaking study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is investigating the persistence of HPV virus types that are known causes of cervical cancer. Although we now have the HPV vaccine, not enough is known about the HPV virus in adolescents and how the vaccine works with teens and in real life situations. We are studying HPV infection in the cervix, anus and mouth, to understand behaviors that may put teens at risk, even if they have received the vaccine.

HPV in Adolescent Boys

The HPV vaccine was developed with girls and women in mind and there is insufficient understanding of the HPV virus in boys. The vaccine is now being offered to boys although its impact has not been studied. The pilot we are currently implementing is intended to set the stage for a full, longitudinal study of HPV infection and persistence among boys.

Substance Abuse Prevention with Young Foster Children

Childhood aggression brings a fourfold increase in illicit drug dependence by age 25. Despite high rates of aggression in children with neglect histories, little research has been developed about effective interventions. We are addressing this critical gap by testing an early drug prevention intervention for children, their biological parents, and foster parents. Our study will serve as a model for promoting protection against substance abuse for high risk children and their families. (Funded by the National Institute of Drug Addiction)

Study on Sibling Bonding for Children in Foster Care

Foster children are a high-risk population for negative sibling relationships and frequent physical aggression and increased risk for physical aggression toward other children. This study is evaluating the effectiveness of a youth violence prevention intervention to reduce sibling aggression in neglected children placed in foster homes. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Physical Dating Aggression

Intra-family violence is a risk factor for negative adolescent outcomes including physical dating violence (both as victims and perpetrators). However the mechanisms underlying the association between exposures to intra-family violence and dating violence remain poorly understood. In this study we hypothesize that stress-related exposure to one or more types of family violence produces cascading effects on psychobiological development placing disadvantaged youth at risk for aggressive behavior and/or victimization from their romantic partners. This study is critical for advancing knowledge and identifying youth who are at risk for physical dating aggression.

Completed Research Studies

Among the many other research studies completed at the Center have been:

  • Evaluation of the contributing role of alcohol and drug use in date rape and other coercive sexual violence (Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
  • Evaluation of the prevalence of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in adolescent and adult females in North America and Brazil.
  • HPV Vaccine Clinical Trials
  • HIV Clinical Trials
  • Randomized Control Trial of Novel Oral Contraceptive Initiation Method (National Institutes of Health)
  • Examining screening and disclosure of childhood maltreatment and trauma among urban adolescents ((Funded by the National Institutes of Health)
  • Assessment and treatment for adolescent substance users and prevention of substance use and behaviors associated with substance use and HIV