Dr. Drury explores the interaction of genetic and epigenetic factors with early experience and how this interaction shapes neurodevelopment and long-term outcomes in children. Her clinical and translational research focuses on improving outcomes in at-risk children by providing an enhanced understanding of the interaction between early life experiences, the stress response systems, and neurodevelopment.
Drury is the Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Pediatrics, the Remigio Gonzalez MD Professor of Child Psychiatry and the Associate director of the Tulane Brain Institute. Throughout her career, she has facilitated and developed a transdisciplinary research program that integrates basic, translational and clinical research to better understand the effects of life course adversity on child health and development from the cell to the neighborhood. Her transdisciplinary research centers on the early caregiving environment as both a contributor to early adversity and a powerful buffer from the lasting negative impacts, both within and across generations, on child health and neurodevelopment. Her program of research integrates trauma, epigenetics, maternal-child health, neuroscience, psychology, neurodevelopment, public health, and health disparities with current studies in Romania, Suriname, Sierre Leone in addition to studies of high risk young children in Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Early Life Trauma
2018 Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement (professional)
The award recognizes the most significant paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry by a child and adolescent psychiatrist within the last year. The academy singled out Drury’s research into how early childhood trauma can have negative health consequences that seep across generations.
Tulane School of Medicine: Residency, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2007
Tulane University: Residency, General Psychiatry 2005
Louisiana State University Health Science Center: M.D., Medicine 2002
Louisiana State University Health Science Center: Ph.D., Genetics and Biometry 2000
University of Michigan: M.S., Human Genetics 1996
University of Virginia: B.A., Religious Studies and Biology 1993
Media Appearances (4)
Syrian conflict enters ninth year, spawning a generation of children who've never known peace
ABC News Australia online
Neuroscientist and child psychologist Stacy Drury added that trauma in early childhood can inhibit brain development, cognitive function, impact crisis response systems, learning ability, aging processes and immune systems for the rest of a child's life. The younger the child, the greater the impact, with children under three facing the greatest risk. "The body systems that are most rapidly developing when the experiences happen are the ones that are going to be most impacted," Dr Drury, a researcher at Tulane University in Louisiana, told the ABC.
Letters: Paid family leave critical for children
It’s no secret that Louisiana has often lagged far behind other states on many key health and education indicators. One way to know where we’re headed in the future, though, is to look at our babies. Unfortunately, in Louisiana, we have high infant mortality rates and high maternal death rates. One way to reduce these rates and create more resilience is by encouraging parent-child bonding early in life...
Researchers find childhood trauma affects DNA
Fox 8 Live
"We have evidence that there are changes in the actual DNA in the cells within each child. We have evidence that it changes how children's stress response systems work," said Stacy Drury, the Associate Director of the Tulane Brain Institute...
Science of Trauma
Scientists, including researchers in New Orleans, have begun to understand the impact of this frequent, long-term exposure to violence. When children grow up surrounded by crime, their brains can become conditioned to perceive the world as a dangerous place, said Dr. Stacy Drury, associate director of Tulane University’s Brain Institute. As a result, the smallest provocation can trigger their “fight, flight or freeze” instinct...
Polymorphic variation in the SLC5A7 gene influences infant autonomic reactivity and self-regulation: A neurobiological model for ANS stress responsivity and infant temperamentPsychoneuroendocrinology
Jones CW, Gray SAO, Theall KP, Drury SS
2018 To examine the impact of polymorphic variation in the solute carrier family 5 member 7 (SLC5A7) gene on autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity indexed by respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and heart rate (HR) in infants during a dyadic stressor, as well as maternal report of infant self-regulation. Given evidence of race differences in older individuals, race was specifically examined.
Caregiving Disruptions Affect Growth and Pubertal Development in Early Adolescence in Institutionalized and Fostered Romanian Children: A Randomized Clinical TrialJournal of Pediatrics
Johnson DE, Tang A, Almas AN, Degnan KA, McLaughlin KA, Nelson CA, Fox NA, Zeanah CH, Drury SS
2018 To determine the effects of foster care vs institutional care, as well as disruptions in the caregiving environment on physical development through early adolescence.
Shaping long-term primate development: Telomere length trajectory as an indicator of early maternal maltreatment and predictor of future physiologic regulationDevelopment and Psychopathology
Drury SS, Howell BR, Jones C, Esteves K, Morin E, Schlesinger R, Meyer JS, Baker K, Sanchez MM
2017 The molecular, neurobiological, and physical health impacts of child maltreatment are well established, yet mechanistic pathways remain inadequately defined. Telomere length (TL) decline is an emerging molecular indicator of stress exposure with definitive links to negative health outcomes in maltreated individuals. The multiple confounders endemic to human maltreatment research impede the identification of causal pathways...