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I am a Cell and Molecular biologist by training (PhD), with postdoctoral experience in the neurobiology of autism using rodent models. Close interactions with clinicians and families of children with autism motivated me to steer my career towards translational neuroscience and public health research. Since 2015, I have developed and validated tools for community detection of neurodevelopmental delays and autism in preschool children. Briefly, I contributed to the design, development and validation of a tablet-based gamified tool (named DEvelopmental Assessment on an E-Platform or DEEP) to assess cognitive abilities in preschool children, and another gamified tool named Screening Tools for Autism Risk using Technology (START) to detect autism risk in early childhood.
Having contributed to bridging an essential gap in the lack of scalable tools for neurodevelopmental assessments in low-resource settings, I am now interested in examining the determinants of poor cognitive outcomes and their consequences across the life course in children growing up in low-resourced settings. Towards meeting this goal, I am currently coordinating the DBT/Wellcome Trust Team Science Grant awarded COINCIDE project (2021-2026) that aims to assess the nutritional, psychosocial and environmental determinants of poor neurodevelopment and child mental health across the first decade of life. The COINCIDE study will extend the follow-up of two birth cohorts based in diverse settings of rural North (Rewari, Haryana) and urban South (Bengaluru) India.
Evidence from our research will inform a theory of change (TOC) – an evidence-based theoretical model of the biological, social, cultural and economic origins of neurodevelopmental and mental health impairments. This TOC will help develop guidelines for a multicomponent intervention for the first decade of life (Pregnancy-9 years), that is tailored for two geographically and culturally distinct communities, by highlighting important intervention targets and their sensitive periods. For the first time, we will generate evidence that enables pushing the boundaries of intervention timelines right up to the beginning of adolescence.
Research Summary and Interests
My research focuses on two main elements: (1) Development and validation of scalable digital tools for assessing neurodevelopmental delays and disabilities in community settings; and (2) Comprehensive assessment of factors that impact cognitive and mental health outcomes in children, and their consequences across the life course.
In the future, I would like to develop tailored interventions to optimise developmental outcomes of children growing up in low-resource, stressful settings based on what we learn from the COINCIDE study, and to examine how early life adversities are biologically embedded to result in adverse health outcomes across the life course.
Areas of Expertise
- Mental Health
- Neonatal Health and Child Health
- Environmental Health
- Social Determinants of Health
- Global Health
- Research Methods
Other Areas of Expertise