Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Young Investigator Grant (2008): $85,000
Mentor: James Potash, M.D., M.P.H., University of Iowa
Childhood Trauma and Suicidal Behaviors: the Role of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Mediating Risk
Abstract: This is an investigation of the role of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction in mediating risk for suicidal behaviors among those exposed to childhood trauma. The potential pathway from childhood trauma to suicidal behaviors will be studied by assessing whether: childhood trauma increases risk for HPA axis dysfunction; and whether HPA axis dysfunction increases risk for suicidal behaviors via increasing impulsive aggression. The aforementioned associations will be analyzed among offspring of adults enrolled in the Baltimore site of GenRED and GenRED II (Genetics of Recurrent Early-Onset Major Depressive Disorder). Elucidating the elements of the trauma/HPA axis pathway to suicidal behavior should constitute potential preventive and therapeutic targets to be developed.