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Erica Smearman


Medical Scientist Training Program
Emory University


Research Description

My research explores the interplay between social stress and oxytocin receptor genetic and epigenetic variation on behavioral and health outcomes in humans. Specifically, I’ve explored gene by environment interactions assessing the interplay between polymorphisms in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and exposure to interpersonal stress on a variety of outcomes. This has included exposure to interpersonal stress and engagement in conduct and antisocial behaviors in adolescences and young adulthood, and exposure to high parent-child conflict and randomization to participate in a family-based prevention intervention on telomere length outcomes, a biomarker for chronic stress. Utilizing data from the Grady Trauma project, I’ve also explored the association between abuse during childhood and methylation of CpG sites across OXTR and the moderating role of OXTR methylation in the risk for depression and anxiety outcomes following exposure to abuse.