Barry M. Lester

Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior and Pediatrics, and Director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Brown University, USA

About the author:

I want to understand developmental processes in children at risk (e.g. preterm infants, infants with prenatal drug exposure); understand the role of epigenetics in the development of children and developing epigenetic methods for early detection of problems; diagnose and treat behavioral and mental health problems; develop instruments to measure developmental processes; translate research findings into clinical practice; help train the next generation of researchers.

What I want to achieve:

I want to identify which individual infants are most at risk for later developmental problems, so that targeted programs can be developed to prevent and/or reduce the severity of these problems. This “personalized medicine” approach will also enable us to make better use of the scarce resources that are available. I want to improve treatment for children and their families through the application of current research – evidenced based practice. I work to change the public perception of substance using pregnant women from punitive, hostile, “blame the mother” attitudes and I want to prevent the harm in labeling children, replacing both with attitudes that are treatment based, remove the stigma attached to these women, and remove the fear that these women have of the health care system because of the threat of prosecution and child removal.