RSC and CAHS Expert Panel on Early Childhood Development releases report outlining importance of early years

In an effort to advance public discussion on the role of early adversity in shaping adolescence and young adulthood, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) gathered an Expert Panel on Early Childhood Development. The Panel, chaired by Prof. Michel Boivin, FRSC, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Child Development, at Université Laval, and Dr. Clyde Hertzman, FRSC, Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership and Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at The University of British Columbia, was mandated to consider a large body of scientific evidence that, if summarized for the public, would be helpful to their consideration of the issues surrounding early childhood development.

The Expert Panel is pleased to announce the release of its report, The Royal Society of Canada & The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Expert Panel: Early Childhood Development, outlining an emerging science, which integrates genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience and developmental science, and that will transform our knowledge of early development by providing a deeper understanding of how the environment and biology jointly influence development over the life course.

The report is a consensus document based on the following two questions:

1. Are there identifiable ...

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HELP Faculty featured in latest PNAS edition

HELP is excited to announce that the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) features a number of studies from Dr. Tom Boyce and his research colleagues, including Dr. Marla B. Sokolowski and former Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow (HELP), Dr. Jelena Obradović . Dr. Clyde Hertzman is also featured in this edition.  Highlights are included below.

Boyce, W. T., Obradović, J., Bush, N. R., Stamperdahl, J., Kim, Y. S., & Adler, N. (2012). Social stratification, classroom climate, and the behavioral adaptation of kindergarten children. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Boyce, W. T., Sokolowski, M. B., & Robinson, G. E. (2012). Toward a new biology of social adversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Burns, J. G., Svetec, N., Rowe, L., Mery, F., Dolan, M. J., Boyce, W. T., & Sokolowski, M. B. (2012). Gene-environment interplay in Drosophila melanogaster: Chronic food deprivation in early life affects adult exploratory and fitness traits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Hertzman, C. (2012). Putting the concept of biological embedding in historical perspective. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Kalil, A ...

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CIHR CAFÉ SCIENTIFIQUE - Epigenetics, and how early experiences may affect your health later in life

What causes the complex illnesses associated with aging, like cancer and heart disease? Each day we discover new genes associated with these diseases. But as we learn more about the genetic code, it becomes clearer that what’s written in our DNA is only part of the story. There are other factors, such as socioeconomic status, that seem to play an important role in health.

Now a new area of research, known as epigenetics, is building upon our knowledge of the human genome. Epigeneticists study the ways that our environment can have a long-term impact on the activity of our genes. And recent advances in technology are giving researchers remarkable new tools to study how nature interacts with nurture.

Date: March 27, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Where: Granville Island Hotel, 1253 Johnston St., Vancouver
Cost: Free
Hosted by: CIHR and its Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction in collaboration with the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium.

Dr. W. Thomas Boyce, PhD
Professor, Sunny Hill Health Centre/BC Leadership Chair in Child Development
School of Population and Public Health and Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Dr. Martin Hirst, PhD
Scientist, Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC ...

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Now online: Presentations from the December 2011 Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the National Academy of Sciences

Entitled Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarters, the Sackler Colloquia focused on socioeconomic position as the single most powerful determinant of health and development within every human society on earth. Rapidly accumulating evidence suggests that differential exposure to early childhood adversities contributes strongly to the observed social disparities in mental and physical health, cognitive and socioemotional development, and lifetime educational and economic attainment. Studies in a broad array of species, ranging from invertebrates to human and nonhuman primates, are elucidating fundamental mechanisms by which social stratification is induced and maintained and by which socially partitioned adversities are transduced into neurobiological and genomic processes. Using new developmental neurogenomic approaches, science is poised to finally understand why disease, disorder and developmental misfortune are so unevenly distributed within human populations. This colloquium convened a world class, cross disciplinary assembly of basic, biomedical, and social scientists to explore the biological embedding of early social adversity across multiple species, from fruit flies to human kindergartners.

Speakers included Clyde Hertzman, Tom Boyce, Janet Werker, Michael Kobor and many others. See HELP researcher presentation below and visit the Sackler Colloquia's YouTube Channel to view the other presentations.

The Arthur M. Sackler ...

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KidCareCanada Launches new video

KidCareCanada Society and Vancouver Native Health Society launched the DVD “Emotional Safety” at Sheway, in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side on October 26, 2011.

Three Minute Promo of Emotional Safety

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Compelling research points to the importance of early attachment and nurture for the life-long well-being of a child. The Emotional Safety DVD bridges the gap between research and the practice so that all new parents can be informed about what their baby really needs, and how they can provide it.

Researchers interviewed as part of the video include Tom Boyce, Janet Werker and Adele Diamond.

A community launch of the video will take place November 23, 2011 at the Phil Bouvier Centre.

2011 Fall Research Exposition Event Summary

Thank you for participating in HELP’s Fall Research Exposition: 10 Years of Insight - Connecting the Dots. The day was a great success. This page is intended to provide you with access to resources that will help you continue this important work in your own community. Please click here for a PDF of the agenda from this event.

Video Recordings

The 'Cell to Society' Approach to Early Child Development

Dr. Clyde Hertzman, Director, HELP

What the Genes Remember: The New Epigenetics of Early Life

Dr. W. Thomas Boyce, Professor, HELP and CCCHR

Does Canada Work for All Generations?

Dr. Paul Kershaw, Associate Professor, CFIS, HELP

International Dialogue (Session 1): How to Put Research into Action in Communities

Dr. Joan Lombardi, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
Anne Hanning, Indigenous Researcher and National Coordinator, Australian Early Development Index
Tracy Smyth, Community Facilitator, Alberni Valley Make Children First Network


Dr. Jennifer E.V. Lloyd
Early experiences matter: Lasting effect of concentrated disadvantage on children’s language and cognitive outcomes (PDF)

Dr. Brenda Poon and the Early Childhood Screening Research and Evaluation Unit
Early Childhood Screening Research and Evaluation (PDF ...

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Three new HELP videos

Watch the three new short videos of Clyde Hertzman, Tom Boyce and Paul Kershaw discussing their work and its importance.

Dr. Hertzman presents HELP's cell to society research model used to explore early childhood development. Dr. Boyce discusses how the stresses and adversities of growing up in socio-economically disadvantaged environments get inside us and affect the biology that determines lifelong metal and physical illness. Finally, Dr. Kershaw explains why it is in everyone's interest to shape public policy to support young families with children.

Clyde Hertzman

Tom Boyce

Paul Kershaw

Tom Boyce elected to the Institute of Medicine

Dr. W Thomas (Tom) Boyce, Sunny Hill Health Centre/B.C. Leadership Chair in Child Development in the Human Early Learning Partnership and the Centre for Community Child Health Research at the University of British Columbia, was elected to the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.   "It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished and accomplished individuals to the Institute of Medicine," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg.  "Each of them stands out as a professional whose research, knowledge, and skills have significantly advanced health and medicine, and their achievements are an inspiration.  The Institute of Medicine is greatly enriched by the addition of our newly elected colleagues."

Congratulations Tom.

For more information about the Institute of Medicine, please visit their website.