Our Research

Current Projects

Smart Beginnings 

The Smart Beginnings Study tests a comprehensive approach to the promotion of school readiness in low income families, beginning shortly after the birth of the child, through enhancement of positive parenting practices (and when present, reduction of psychosocial stressors) within the pediatric primary care platform.

The Pittsburgh Study 

The Early Childhood Collaborative of The Pittsburgh Study is an ongoing population-level implementation study to effect change in how early parenting programs are delivered in Allegheny County, PA. With a goal of recruiting 8,000 families with a children 0 to 5 years, following a 30-minute screen at birthing hospitals, pediatric clinics, WIC, and other agencies frequented by parents with young children, families will be offered evidence-based interventions tailored to their own strengths and challenges. Our goal is to promote all of Pittsburgh’s next generation of children to thrive, regardless of economic resources, ethnicity, or race.

Early Steps Multisite Study 

The Early Steps Project is an ongoing, longitudinal study of 731 ethnically-diverse families from urban (Pittsburgh, PA), suburban (Eugene, OR), and rural (Charlottesville, VA) sites. Families were recruited when children were 2 years old, and at recruitment, all families displayed sociodemographic, family, and child risk factors, suggesting that this cohort of children are at high risk for displaying trajectories of conduct problems (CP) and later drug use.

Early Growth and Development Studies (EGADS) I and II 

The premise of the Early Growth and Development Study (EGADS) is based on increasing evidence that genetic and social influences are intricately intertwined in early development. EGADS is an adoption study in which the child is genetically unrelated to the adopting parents. This research design allows one to disentangle the distinct influences of genetic and social factors and to delineate the mechanisms by which these two sets of influences may combine.


Past Projects

Pitt Mother & Child Project 

The Pitt Mother & Child Project is a longitudinal study of child development. Begun in 1991 by Drs. Daniel Shaw and Joan Vondra as the Pitt Mother & Baby Project, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse provided continuous funding through the year 2015.  Learn More »

Health Promotion Study 

The overarching goal of this project was to examine the short- and long-term health effects of a set of interventions focusing on three inter-related regulatory systems: sleep, physical activity, and emotion. Learn More »

SafeKeeping Youth Study 

The SafeKeeping Youth (SKY) Study is testing the effectiveness of integrating and adapting two procedures for use in primary care pediatric clinics serving low-income youth: the Urgency Indicator (UI) - a screening tool for high risk of substance use (SU) prior to high school; and the Family Check-Up (FCU) - a brief, family-based program to prevent SU.

Parental Involvement in Extra-Familial Settings 

The Early Steps Monitoring Project used the Early Steps Multisite sample of 731 families to examine extra-familial contexts at ages 7.5 to 10.5 (e.g., school, after-school care, and neighborhood settings), focusing on the relation of parental involvement in these outside settings with child problem behavior. Learn More »

Pitt Early Steps Pilot Study 

The goal of this study was to test a family-based preventive intervention with two-year-old children at risk for developing significant conduct problems. Learn More »

Risk Factors in Childhood-Onset Depression 

The overall goal of this project was to investigate the developmental trajectories of the offspring of mothers with childhood-onset depression (COD).  Learn More »