Department of Pediatrics
Institute for the Study of Child Development
89 French Street
The Institute for the Study of Child Development is a research center within the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Directed by Dr. Michael Lewis, the Institute's faculty is comprised of psychologists, educators, and other professionals interested in understanding and facilitating the development of children and their families. The Institute for the Study of Child Development has as its goal the understanding of the processes leading to healthy children. Good health involves emotional, social, and psychological functioning, as well as physical well-being. For a complete understanding of child health, research is necessary at all levels of functioning, from molecular processes to the whole child, as well as the environmental context in which the child is raised. Ultimately, this will lead to innovative interventions that will benefit children in their everyday lives.
The Institute seeks to understand individual children through studying normal and atypical developmental patterns. The guiding model of development is that an organism's characteristics are a function of an interaction between the environment and behavior, and that behavioral expression is always in the service of adaptation to the environment. As children mature from infancy into childhood and adolescence, identifying possible paths of growth and the factors that influence them, will help physicians, educators, and parents understand and best serve the developing individual.
In order to accomplish the goals of the Institute, studies necessarily include multiple levels of analysis. These range from characterizing the child's physical and social environments to studying the relation between brain and behavior using brain imaging technology. Current work includes behavioral teratology through studies of the long term effects of prenatal drug and other toxic exposures and conditions; identifying factors that affect behavioral and physiological reactions to stress and the capacity to cope with stress; the impact of deviant caregiving and traumatic events in the child's life on the development of self-worth and other self-evaluative emotions; and the study of normal cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Our Four Mission Areas
1.) The development of the child is an interactive process, an outgrowth of the child's own skills and biological capacities at any point in time and the environment in which the child is immersed.
2.) The child is a social individual connected to an expanding network including first, family, and subsequently, friends and the larger community.
3.) Each child is a potentially competent, active learner with multiple and interdependent intellectual skills.
4.) The child's emotional life is a central component of the developing self.
Pathologies in this aspect of psychological functioning may lead to serious illness, which include immunocompetence and other health failures as well as mental problems.
These principles represent broad areas of concern within which specific basic and applied research programs and clinical services of the Institute operate. Our research examines normative growth and individual differences in normal and atypical populations.
Click here to explore our main website for profiles of our faculty and additional information about our work in the areas of cognition, emotion, and social development, as well as our clinical and educational services.
Department of Pediatrics