Thursday, August 15, 2019

Mark Berg, director of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center's Crime and Justice Policy Research Program and associate professor in the Department of Sociology, was awarded grant funding for a two-year project titled, “Childhood Stressors and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Adulthood: A Longitudinal Investigation of Divergent Explanatory Models.” This project is one of four interdisciplinary research projects that are part of a recent $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC awarded the five-year grant to the UI to continue the Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) in the College of Public Health. 

Along with co-investigators Ronald Simons (distinguished research professor at the University of Georgia Department of Sociology) and Man-Kit Lei (assistant professor at the University of Georgia Department of Sociology), Berg will study the effects of childhood adversity on dimensions of cardiovascular health. The researchers will use 20 years of longitudinal data to examine the pathways through which childhood stressors contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The project seeks to:

  1. Test competing predictions regarding the pathways through which stressors across the life-course affect cardiovascular disease risk. 
  2. Investigate the association between incarceration and cardiovascular disease risk, and whether childhood stressors amplify this association. 

 "Cardiovascular disease is among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide,” says Berg, “and African-Americans are particularly at risk. Compared to whites, they suffer a greater burden of CVD, an earlier onset of CVD, and are more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease. This is why it is crucial that we advance the research on the extent to which socio-environmental stressors, particularly those in childhood, give rise to CVD risk. This information might help us understand the class gradients in poor health that are not attributable to lifestyle conditions.”

Updates on this project will be posted to the Public Policy Center website.