Science of Adversity and Resilience

The Center’s portfolio of activities on the Science of Adversity and Resilience (SAR) is designed to advance our understanding of how genes, experiences, and environmental influences interact during prenatal, child, and adolescent development to affect brain development and lifelong outcomes in learning, behavior, and health. The full scope of this work brings together creative thinkers at the intersection of the biological and social sciences, animal and human studies, and both basic and applied research to catalyze fresh thinking, interdisciplinary investigation, and the synthesis and translation of this knowledge—all in the service of informing innovations in policy and practice.

Key scientific themes of the SAR work include

  • Toxic stress and its impacts on lifelong health;
  • Brain plasticity and critical/sensitive periods of development;
  • Causal mechanisms that explain the origins of disparities in learning, behavior, and health that are associated with adversity-related socioeconomic status, maltreatment, and/or minority group status;
  • Scientifically informed interventions and measurement strategies designed to improve the life prospects of disadvantaged children; and
  • Factors that contribute to resilience in individuals and communities.

Learn more about related activities >>

Science of Adversity and Resilience Fact Sheet: Mission and Activities (PDF) >>


How Early Experiences Get Into the Body: A Biodevelopmental Framework


This interactive feature, also available in a downloadable "flip chart" format, explains how early experiences are biologically embedded in the development of the brain and other organ systems and have lifelong impacts on learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

View interactive feature >>

Download "flip chart" PDF >>

View all interactive features >>



The activities of the SAR portfolio focus on expanding the knowledge base about how healthy development gets derailed; how to get development back on track through scientifically informed interventions; and the factors that create resilience in individuals and communities in the face of adversity.
More >>


The Child Mental Health Network was launched by the Center in September 2008 to address the gap between what we know and what we do related to child and adolescent mental health. More >>


Science has an important role to play in helping policymakers respond to complex social problems, including those affecting children. Yet the data do not always speak for themselves. More >>

Major support for the Science of Adversity and Resilience is currently being provided by: Bezos Family Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Palix Foundation.


email-icon.png Sign up to receive the Center's e-mail newsletter and other announcements >>

 rss-icon.gifSubscribe to the Center's RSS feed for news and announcements >>

twitter-icon.gif Follow the Center on the Developing Child on Twitter >>