Prediction and Understanding of Resilience in Albertan Families. Longitudinal Study of Disaster Responses.

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Shui Jiang

Co-Author(s): Dr. Katherine J. Aitchison, Dr. Paul Arnold, Dr. Suzanne King, Dr. Dawn Kingston, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, Dr. Diego Lapetina, Dr. Sheila McDonald, Dr. Gerlinde Metz, Dr. Kashif Mughal, Dr. Mona Nematian, Dr. Lynne Postovit, Dr. Hongyan Ren, Dr. Donna Slater, Dr. Suzanne Tough, Dr. Katherine Wynne-Edwards

Date and time: 24 Mar 2018 from 14:50 to 15:10

Location: Wildrose Salon C  Floor Map

*Dawn Kingston and Katherine J. Aitchison are joint senior authors


Learning Objectives: 

  1. To understand that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) may have negative impact on the health of children.
  2. To gain knowledge regarding specific techniques that may be used in genetic analysis.
  3. To learn about genetic factors that might contribute to resilience.


Literature references: 

Cicchetti, D. (2013). Annual research review: Resilient functioning in maltreated children–past, present, and future perspectives. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(4), 402-422.

Inoue, Y., Stickley, A., Yazawa, A., Aida, J., Kawachi, I., Kondo, K., & Fujiwara, T. (2017). Adverse childhood experiences, exposure to a natural disaster and posttraumatic stress disorder among survivors of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 1-9.

Roper, L. J., Purdon, S. E., & Aitchison, K. J. (2015). Childhood and Later Life Stressors and Psychosis. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, J Treatment Evaluation, 12(6), 148-156.

Stein, D. J., Scott, K., Haro Abad, J. M., et al. (2010). Early childhood adversity and later hypertension: data from the World Mental Health Survey. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 22(1), 19-28.



Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) have been reported to impact approximately 40% of the global population (Stein et al., 2010). Childhood adversity or trauma can have a lifelong impact on mental health (e.g., it has been associated with psychotic episodes during adolescence and adulthood (Roper, Purdon, & Aitchison, 2015). Natural disasters can be classified as a form of childhood adversity, which can alter health outcomes (Inoue et al., 2017). ACE can affect individuals to a different extent. To date, studies observed that while some children might be more vulnerable to the effects of traumatic events, others might present a higher degree of “resilience” (Cicchetti, 2013). There is increasing interest in the genetic contributions to “resilience.”

The aim of PURLS study is to define clinical and biological factors that are related to resilience in children and families. As an extension of the All Our Babies (AOB) pregnancy cohort, the PURLS study provides a unique opportunity to compare the data collected pre- and post-an ACE event (the 2013 flood in the region of Calgary, Alberta).  

The project is investigating genomic and epigenomic associations with resilience in the PURLS study (sample size: 165 resilient + 119 non-resilient, total: 284 received), including through variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs), and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on an array. In such a manner, the project aims to identify biological markers of children with different levels of resilience, thus contributing to the growing body of literature on resilience and informing appropriate interventions.

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