Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine


Nicole Nugent, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Pediatrics, and Emergency Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and is a child clinical psychologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Dr. Nugent is Director of the Rhode Island Resilience Project and Associate Director of the Stress Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Institute as well as the Brown Lifespan Center for Digital Health. Dr. Nugent also serves as Director of Resilience and Psychological Services at the Hasbro Pediatric Refugee Clinic, a role that informs research efforts that permit translation to intervention across diverse populations.

Dr. Nugent has been continuously funded by the National Institues of Health since 2009 and has conducted programmatic research aimed at characterization of neurobiological and psychosocial influences during high risk periods of stress and transition, toward the goal of developing informed and novel secondary and tertiary interventions. Dr. Nugent’s early work focused on the interplay of biomarkers and social context in the acute aftermath of trauma as related to development of stress-sensitive outcomes such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

This early work was expanded through a Mentored Research Scientist Award to incorporate training and research in psychiatric genomics and advanced analytic models, which has permitted Dr. Nugent to continue to develop an integrated program of research aimed at rich characterization of clinically significant and dynamical processes that unfold as at-risk adolescents navigate periods of significant stress.

Dr. Nugent’s current research uses innovative methods to assess adolescent biomarkers (genetics, epigenetics, startle, fear conditioning, eye tracker assessed attention bias, wearable health tracker assessment of heart rate) and ecologically assessed emotion reactivity as related to in person social context (assessed with the Electronically Activated Recorder) and online social networking (texting, instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc) during times of high-risk transition. Specifically, adolescents who have experienced a trauma and are transitioning from the emergency department or hospital and, in a separate study, from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for suicidal thoughts and behaviors to their home environments. It is expected that early childhood maltreatment experiences will be associated with alterations in the methylation profile of genes involved in the major stress system and that these epigenetic changes will be associated with increased reactivity to social context in adolescents.  

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