Dr. Bush is the Lisa and John Pritzker Distinguished Professor of Developmental and Behavioral Health, jointly appointed as a Full Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Pediatrics, and the Director (Division Chief) of the Division of Developmental Medicine.
Dr. Bush is an international leader with clinical and research expertise in child and family health and wellbeing. 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), an MPI on the UCSF CARES intervention study (State of CA Gov Office), the PI of the SEED prenatal programming study (R01), the UCSF PI of the TIDES multi-site prenatal programming study (R01), the Co-PI of the CANDLE DOHaD Epigenetics Study (CIHR, Canada), the PI of the CPP-HEALTH Trauma and Biomarkers study (CTSI; RWJF; JPB Foundation), and a scientist in the JPB Toxic Stress Network.
Dr. Bush has published more than 150 empirical papers and book chapters on research focused on the manner in which early life psychosocial environments, beginning in utero, affect developmental trajectories of health and disease across the life course. She investigates the ways in which contextual experiences of adversity, ranging from socioeconomic status to interpersonal violence, become biologically embedded by changing children’s developing physiologic systems and organs, thereby shaping individual differences that influence development and mental health in childhood and later life. Her work focuses on identifying points for prevention of disease as well as protective factors and interventions that promote resilience, with special attention to vulnerable populations and the unique interplay between maternal-child health across generations.
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within research, clinical, and academic contexts is a core component of Dr. Bush's work. For example, she is a past recipient of the UCSF Chancellor's Award for the Advancement of Women, and she currently serves on the Diversity Advisory Council for the Executive Committee of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and is a founding member of the NIH ECHO consortium's DEI Working Group. Moreover, her work explicitly strives to illuminate social determinants of health and advance anti-racist practices across scholarly and community contexts, employing diverse teams and data from communities underrepresented in research.
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 understanding of contextual risk effects by infusing scientific 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. She collaborates with clinical interventionists to identify preventative and intervention efforts that can promote resilience in children and families and reverse biological and psychological harm from adversity.
Caregiver-child relationships; disruptive behaviors in early childhood; adolescent mood and anxiety; adolescent delinquency; family therapy; individual adult therapy; community intervention in high-risk neighborhoods and schools.