The biological embedding (BE) mechanism that accompanies child maltreatment (CM) (i.e., the process for how the stress of CM gets “under the skin”) has been well-documented and includes multiple levels of biology including the genome, transcriptome, and proteome. Despite the breadth of research in BE, understanding of how BE manifests in deleterious health outcomes is incomplete. Metabolomics allows large-scale characterization of small molecule biomarkers (molecular dysregulations that predict, or “tag”, disease). Metabolites are often referred to as “intermediate phenotypes” because they act as the functional players that build phenotypes and are downstream of the genome, transcriptome, and proteome. Therefore, methods to study metabolomics offer the potential to improve disease prediction capability, and thus, personalized interventions for stress-exposed populations.

Our lab is working to characterize the metabolomic impact of child maltreatment and its associations with later health disparities. In collaboration with Dr. Jennie Noll and Dr. Andrew Patterson, we are conducting the first-ever collection of metabolomics data in this population of children (manuscript in progress).

This work is supported by the 2018 PSU Human Health and the Environment Seed Grant, the Frances Keesler Graham Early Career Professorship, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Hatch Appropriations under Project #PEN04275 and Accession #1018544

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