Current University: University of British Columbia
Location: British Columbia
Member since: March 2009
Dr. Tim Oberlander is a physician-scientist whose work “bridges” developmental neurosciences and community child health. As a clinician he manages pain in children with developmental disabilities. As a researcher, his primary interest has been in studying how early life experiences shape stress/pain and related neurobehavioral outcomes during childhood. His work provides strong evidence that both maternal mood and in utero SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant exposure influences childhood behavior and stress regulation, possibly via changes in central serotonin levels. This work shows that the developing brain has a remarkable capacity for plasticity and recovery. Even in the face of adversity, some children do very well and the goal of his work is to figure out how and why this happens. Oberlander’s work extends from molecular/genetic studies to population epidemiological studies that characterize neurodevelopmental pathways that reflect risk, resiliency and developmental plasticity. To this end, he has published pioneering studies on neurobehavioral outcomes in young children of depressed mothers who were treated with an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy. Outcome measures include studies of pain reactivity, attention, mood and executive functions across early childhood.