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Nicki Bush, PhD

TitleAssociate Professor
SchoolUCSF School of Medicine
DepartmentPsychiatry
Address3333 California Street
San Francisco CA 94118
Phone415-476-7655
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    Dr. Bush is an Associate Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics.
    She is the Associate Director of Research for the Division of Developmental Medicine.

    She is an M-PI for the ECHO National Children's Study PATHWAYS cohort (NIH) and a site PI for the ECHO NYU Center cohort (NIH), the Co-Scientific Director of the CANDLE study (Urban Child Institute; NIH) the PI of the SEED prenatal programming study (R01), the UCSF PI of the TIDES multi-site prenatal programming study (R01), the PI of the PAWS-Genetics Substudy (RWJF), and the PI of the CTRP-HEALTH Trauma and Biomarkers study (CTSI; RWJF).

    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.

    Biography Summary:

    Nicole (Nicki) Bush joined the faculty after completing a postdoctoral fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the UCSF/UCB site. Prior to that, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in children’s physiologic stress reactivity at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed her child clinical training internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has a background in basic research as well as clinical and community intervention with families from high-stress contexts, and she is actively involved in policy-oriented projects.

    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. In recent years, Dr. Bush has expanded her examination of contextual risk effects by infusing her models with a new understanding of biology (physiology, genetics, epigenetics) throughout early development, including the prenatal period. Her work integrates insights from social epidemiology, sociology, clinical psychology, and developmental psychobiology to elucidate the interplay of biology and context in youth development, as physiological systems mature and social environments change. 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.

    Clinical Expertise:

    Disruptive behaviors in early childhood; adolescent mood and anxiety; adolescent delinquency; family therapy; dialectical behavioral therapy; individual adult therapy; community intervention in high-risk neighborhoods and schools; unlicensed wilderness therapy programs.


    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Prenatal and Early Childhood Pathways To Health:  An Integrated Model of Chemical and Social Exposures, Biological Mechanisms, and Sex-Specific Effects on Neurodevelopment and Respiratory Outcomes
    NIH UG3OD023271Sep 21, 2016 - Aug 31, 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Preventing Inter-generational Transmission of Obesity and Cardiometabolic Risk
    NIH R01HL116511Aug 1, 2013 - Jul 31, 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Bush, N., Jones-Mason, K.*, Coccia, M.*, Caron, Z.*, Thomas, M., Wadhwa, P., Laraia, B., Adler, N., & Epel, E. Bush, N., Jones-Mason, K.*, Coccia, M.*, Caron, Z.*, Thomas, M., Prenatal programming of infant ANS, HPA axis, and temperamental reactivity by multiple levels of maternal stress. Bush, N., Jones-Mason, K.*, Coccia, M.*, Caron, Z.*, Thomas, M., Development and Psychopathology. 2017; ((in press)).
    2. Roubinov, D.*, Boyce, W.T., Adler, N., & Bush, N. Child temperament, classroom climate, and changes in cortisol over the kindergarten year. Child temperament, classroom climate, and changes in cortisol over the kindergarten year. 2017; ((in press)).
    3. Bush, N. R., Lane, R., McLaughlin, K. Psychosomatic Medicine. Mechanisms underlying the association between early-life adversity and physical health: Charting a course for the future. 2016; 9(78):1114-1119.
    4. Bush, N., Allison*, A., Miller, A., Deardorff, J., Adler, N., Boyce, W.T. Socioeconomic Disparities in Childhood Obesity Risk: Assocation With an Oxytocin Receptor Polymorphism. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016; 1(171):61-67.
    5. Melissa J. Hagan PhD, MPH, Nicole Bush PhD, Wendy Berry Mendes PhD, Justine Arenander BA, Elissa Epel PhD & Eli Puterman PhD. Associations between childhood adversity and daily suppression and avoidance in response to stress in adulthood: Can neurobiological sensitivity help explain this relationship?. 2016.
    6. McLaughlin, K., Lane, R., Bush, N.R. Psychosomatic Medicine. Mechanisms Linking Early-Life Adversity with Physical Health. 2016; 78(9):976-978.
    7. Jennifer N. Felder1a, Barbara Laraia2*, Kimberly Coleman-Phox1, Nicole Bush1, Madhuvanthi Suresh1, Melanie Thomas1, Nancy Adler1*, Elissa Epel1*, Aric Prather1*. Poor Sleep Quality, Psychological Distress, and the Buffering Effect of Mindfulness Training During Pregnancy. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 2016; (in press).
    8. Arons, A., Bolbocean, C., Bush, N. R., Tylavsky, F., LeWinn, K. Z. Participation in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children is not associated with early childhood socioemotional development: Results from a longitudinal cohort study. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2016; (in press).
    9. Anna K Knight; Jeffrey M Craig; Christiane Theda; Marie Bækvad-Hansen; Jonas Bybjerg-Grauholm; Christine S Hansen; Mads V Hollegaard; David M Hougaard; Preben B Mortensen; Shantel M Weinsheimer; Thomas M Werge; Patricia A Brennan; Joseph F Cubells; D Jeffrey Newport; Zachary N Stowe; Jeanie LY Cheong; Philippa Dalach; Lex W Doyle; Yuk J Loke; Andrea A Baccarelli; Allan C Just; Robert O Wright; Mara M Téllez-Rojo; Katherine Svensson; Letizia Trevisi; Elizabeth M Kennedy; Elisabeth B Binder; Stella Iurato; Darina Czamara; Katri Räikkönen; Jari MT Lahti; Anu-Katriina Pesonen; Eero Kajantie; Pia M Villa; Hannele Laivuori; Esa Hämäläinen; Hea Jin Park; Lynn B Bailey; Sasha E Parets; Varun Kilaru; Ramkumar Menon; Steve Horvath; Nicole R Bush; Kaja Z LeWinn; Frances A Tylavsky; Karen N Conneely; Alicia K Smith. An epigenetic clock for gestational age at birth based on blood methylation data. Genome Biology. 2016; (in press).
    10. Sathyanarayana, S., Grady, R., Barrett, E. S., Redmon, B., Nguyen, R. H. N., Barthold, J. S., Bush, N. R., Swan, S. H. First trimester phthalate exposure and male newborn genital anomalies. Environmental Research. 2016; (in press).
    11. Leung, C., Laraia, B., Coleman-Phox, K., Bush, N., Lin, J., Blackburn, E. H., Adler, N., & Epel, E. Sugary beverage and food consumption and leukocyte telomere length maintenance in pregnant women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016.
    12. Hagan, M.*, Roubinov, D.*, Adler, N., Boyce, W.T., & Bush, N. Socioeconomic adversity and negativity in the parent child-relationship: The complex costs for young children’s physical health and examinations of biological mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2016; (in press).
    13. Jones-Mason*, K., Allen, I. E., Bush, N., & Hamilton, S. Epigenetic marks as the link between environment and development: Examination of the associations between attachment, socioeconomic status, and methylation of the SLC6A4 gene. Brain and Behavior. 2016; 7(6):e00480.
    14. Golemiec, M., Schneider, J., Boyce, W.T., Bush, N., Adler, N. Levine, J. Layered social network analysis reveals complex relationships in kindergarteners. Frontiers in Psychology. 2016; (7):276.
    15. Mulkey*, J., Adler, N., Epel, E., Laraia, B. & Bush, N. A prospective investigation of prenatal stress and childbirth perceptions in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample. Birth. 2016; 2(43):159-166.
    16. Bush, N., Caron, Z., Blackburn, K., & Alkon, A. Measuring cardiac autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity in toddlers — Resting and developmental challenges. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2016; (108):e53652.
    17. Bush, N., & Boyce, W. T. Developmental psychopathology (D. Cicchetti, Eds.). Differential sensitivity to context: Implications for developmental psychopathology. 2016; 2:107-137.
    18. Quas JA, Yim IS, Oberlander TF, Nordstokke D, Essex MJ, Armstrong JM, Bush N, Obradovic J, Boyce WT. The symphonic structure of childhood stress reactivity: patterns of sympathetic, parasympathetic, and adrenocortical responses to psychological challenge. Dev Psychopathol. 2014 Nov; 26(4 Pt 1):963-82. PMID: 24909883; PMCID: PMC4557735.
    19. Bush, N., & Boyce, W. T. Handbook of developmental psychopathology (M. Lewis & K. Rudolph. Eds.). The contributions of early experience to biological development and sensitivity to context. 2014; 287-309.
    20. Rawdin, B., Lindqvist, D., Bush, N., Hamilton, S., Boparai, R., Makin, S., Reus, V., Mellon, S, & Wolkowitz, O. Treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders (R. Hagerman & R. Hendren Eds.). Neurodevelopmental and Neurobiological Aspects of Major Depression. 2014; 73-104.
    21. Boyce WT, Obradovic J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J, Kim YS, Adler N. Social stratification, classroom climate, and the behavioral adaptation of kindergarten children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16; 109 Suppl 2:17168-73. PMID: 23045637; PMCID: PMC3477374.
    22. Adler N, Bush NR, Pantell MS. Rigor, vigor, and the study of health disparities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16; 109 Suppl 2:17154-9. PMID: 23045672; PMCID: PMC3477386.
    23. Zalewski, M., Lengua, L., Fisher, P., Bush, N., Trancik, A., & Meltzoff, A. Poverty and single parenting: Relations with preschoolers' cortisol and effortful control. Infant and child development. 2012; (21):537-554.
    24. Kiff CJ, Lengua LJ, Bush NR. Temperament variation in sensitivity to parenting: predicting changes in depression and anxiety. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 Nov; 39(8):1199-212. PMID: 21800017; PMCID: PMC3199341.
    25. Bush NR, Obradovic J, Adler N, Boyce WT. Kindergarten stressors and cumulative adrenocortical activation: the "first straws" of allostatic load? Dev Psychopathol. 2011 Nov; 23(4):1089-106. PMID: 22018083.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Kroenke CH, Epel E, Adler N, Bush NR, Obradovic J, Lin J, Blackburn E, Stamperdahl JL, Boyce WT. Autonomic and adrenocortical reactivity and buccal cell telomere length in kindergarten children. Psychosom Med. 2011 Sep; 73(7):533-40. PMID: 21873585; PMCID: PMC3212037.
    27. Bush NR, Alkon A, Obradovic J, Stamperdahl J, Boyce WT. Differentiating challenge reactivity from psychomotor activity in studies of children's psychophysiology: considerations for theory and measurement. J Exp Child Psychol. 2011 Sep; 110(1):62-79. PMID: 21524757; PMCID: PMC4160114.
    28. Obradovic J, Bush NR, Boyce WT. The interactive effect of marital conflict and stress reactivity on externalizing and internalizing symptoms: the role of laboratory stressors. Dev Psychopathol. 2011 Feb; 23(1):101-14. PMID: 21262042.
      View in: PubMed
    29. Bush NR, Lengua LJ, Colder CR. Temperament as a moderator of the relation between neighborhood and children's adjustment. J Appl Dev Psychol. 2010 Sep; 31(5):351-361. PMID: 20948973.
      View in: PubMed
    30. Obradovic J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J, Adler NE, Boyce WT. Biological sensitivity to context: the interactive effects of stress reactivity and family adversity on socioemotional behavior and school readiness. Child Dev. 2010 Jan-Feb; 81(1):270-89. PMID: 20331667; PMCID: PMC2846098.
    31. Lengua LJ, Bush NR, Long AC, Kovacs EA, Trancik AM. Effortful control as a moderator of the relation between contextual risk factors and growth in adjustment problems. Dev Psychopathol. 2008; 20(2):509-28. PMID: 18423092; PMCID: PMC4096710.
    32. Lengua LJ, Honorado E, Bush N. Contextual risk and parenting as predictors of effortful control and social competence in preschool children. J Appl Dev Psychol. 2007 1; 28(1):40-55. PMID: 21687825.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Friedman RM, Pinto A, Behar L, Bush N, Chirolla A, Epstein M, Green A, Hawkins P, Huff B, Huffine C, Mohr W, Seltzer T, Vaughn C, Whitehead K, Young CK. Unlicensed residential programs: the next challenge in protecting youth. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2006 Jul; 76(3):295-303. PMID: 16981808.
      View in: PubMed
    34. Colder, C, Lengua, L, Fite, P., Mott, J., & Bush, N. Temperament in context: Infant temperament moderates the relationship between perceived neighborhood quality and behavior problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 2006; (27):456-467.
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