Nicki Bush, PhD

Nicki Bush, PhD is an Associate Professor in the UCSF departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and the Director of Research for the Division of Developmental Medicine.

Dr. Bush’s research focuses on the manner in which early social contexts interface with individual differences to affect developmental trajectories across the life course. She examines how socioeconomic, parental, and environmental risks for maladaptive behavior and developmental psychopathology are modulated by individual differences in children’s temperamental, neurobiological, and genetic reactivity to stress. She also investigates the ways in which contextual experiences of adversity become biologically embedded by changing children’s developing physiologic systems and epigenetic processes, thereby shaping individual differences that mediate and moderate the effects of context on trajectories of development and mental health.

Her research has examined relations among biobehavioral predispositions (e.g., temperament and physiology) and stressful life circumstances (e.g., poverty, parenting, and neighborhood) in the prediction of a broad range of children’s mental health outcomes. Her examinations of how social disadvantage interacts with and alters children’s biological stress response systems aim to clarify the etiology of children’s mental and physical health outcomes and subsequent adult health.