Nicole (Nicki) Bush, PhD

Nicki Bush, PhDPhD, University of Washington, Seattle
Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Associate Director of Research, Division of Developmental Medicine
Phone: (415) 476-7655
Fax: (415) 476-7744
E-mail: nicole.bush@ucsf.edu

UCSF Profiles

Postgraduate Training:

Robert Wood Johnson Health and Science Scholar, University of California, San Francisco (School of Medicine) and Berkeley (Public Health);  Postdoctoral Fellowship, Developmental Psychobiology and Health Psychology, University of California, San Francisco (School of Medicine) and Berkeley (Public Health).

Biography Summary:

Nicole (Nicki) Bush joined the faculty after completing a postdoctoral fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the UCSF/UCB site. Prior to that, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in children’s physiologic stress reactivity at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed her child clinical training internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has a background in basic research as well as clinical and community intervention with families from high-stress contexts, and she is actively involved in policy-oriented projects.

Her research has examined relations among biobehavioral predispositions (e.g., temperament and physiology) and stressful life circumstances (e.g., poverty, parenting, and neighborhood) in the prediction of a broad range of children's mental health outcomes. In recent years, Dr. Bush has expanded her examination of contextual risk effects by infusing her models with a new understanding of biology (physiology, genetics, epigenetics) throughout early development, including the prenatal period. Her work integrates insights from social epidemiology, sociology, clinical psychology, and developmental psychobiology to elucidate the interplay of biology and context in youth development, as physiological systems mature and social environments change. Her examinations of how social disadvantage interacts with and alters children’s biological stress response systems aim to clarify the etiology of children’s mental and physical health outcomes and subsequent adult health.

Clinical Expertise:

Disruptive behaviors in early childhood; adolescent mood and anxiety; adolescent delinquency; family therapy; dialectical behavioral therapy; individual adult therapy; community intervention in high-risk neighborhoods and schools.

Research Areas:

Dr. Bush’s research focuses on the manner in which early social contexts interface with individual differences to affect developmental trajectories across the life course. She examines how socioeconomic, parental, and environmental risks for maladaptive behavior and developmental psychopathology are modulated by individual differences in children’s temperamental, neurobiological, and genetic reactivity to stress. She also investigates the ways in which contextual experiences of adversity become biologically embedded by changing children’s developing physiologic systems and epigenetic processes, thereby shaping individual differences that mediate and moderate the effects of context on trajectories of development and mental health.

Selected Publications:

  1. Bush, N. R. & Boyce, W. T. Developmental Psychopathology (D. Cicchetti, Ed.). Differential Sensitivity to Context: Implications for Developmental Psychopathology. 2015.
  2. Quas JA, Yim IS, Oberlander TF, Nordstokke D, Essex MJ, Armstrong JM, Bush N, Obradovic J, Boyce WT. The symphonic structure of childhood stress reactivity: Patterns of sympathetic, parasympathetic, and adrenocortical responses to psychological challenge. Dev Psychopathol. 2014 Nov; 26(4 Pt 1):963-82.
  3. Bush, N. R. & Boyce, W. T. Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology (Lewis, M. & Rudolph, K. Eds.). The Contributions of Early Experience to Biological Development and Sensitivity to Context. 2014.
  4. Adler N, Bush NR, Pantell MS. Rigor, vigor, and the study of health disparities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16; 109 Suppl 2:17154-9.
  5. Boyce WT, Obradovic J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J, Kim YS, Adler N. Social stratification, classroom climate, and the behavioral adaptation of kindergarten children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16; 109 Suppl 2:17168-73.
  6. Zalewski, M., Lengua, L., Fisher, P., Bush, N., Trancik, A., Meltzoff, A. Poverty and Single Parenting: Relations with Preschoolers' Cortisol and Effortful Control. Infant and Child Development. 2012; (21):537-554.
  7. Bush NR, Obradovic J, Adler N, Boyce WT. Kindergarten stressors and cumulative adrenocortical activation: the "first straws" of allostatic load? Dev Psychopathol. 2011 Nov; 23(4):1089-106.
  8. Kiff CJ, Lengua LJ, Bush NR. Temperament variation in sensitivity to parenting: predicting changes in depression and anxiety. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 Nov; 39(8):1199-212.
  9. Kroenke CH, Epel E, Adler N, Bush NR, Obradovic J, Lin J, Blackburn E, Stamperdahl JL, Boyce WT. Autonomic and adrenocortical reactivity and buccal cell telomere length in kindergarten children. Psychosom Med. 2011 Sep; 73(7):533-40.
  10. Bush NR, Alkon A, Obradovic J, Stamperdahl J, Boyce WT. Differentiating challenge reactivity from psychomotor activity in studies of children's psychophysiology: considerations for theory and measurement. J Exp Child Psychol. 2011 Sep; 110(1):62-79.
  11. Obradovic J, Bush NR, Boyce WT. The interactive effect of marital conflict and stress reactivity on externalizing and internalizing symptoms: the role of laboratory stressors. Dev Psychopathol. 2011 Feb; 23(1):101-14.
  12. Bush NR, Lengua LJ, Colder CR. Temperament as a moderator of the relation between neighborhood and children's adjustment. J Appl Dev Psychol. 2010 Sep; 31(5):351-361.
  13. Obradovic J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J, Adler NE, Boyce WT. Biological sensitivity to context: the interactive effects of stress reactivity and family adversity on socioemotional behavior and school readiness. Child Dev. 2010 Jan-Feb; 81(1):270-89.
  14. Lengua LJ, Bush NR, Long AC, Kovacs EA, Trancik AM. Effortful control as a moderator of the relation between contextual risk factors and growth in adjustment problems. Dev Psychopathol. 2008; 20(2):509-28.
  15. Lengua, L., Honorado, E., & Bush, N. . Cumulative risk and parenting as predictors of effortful control and social competence in preschool children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 2007; (28):40-55.
  16. Friedman RM, Pinto A, Behar L, Bush N, Chirolla A, Epstein M, Green A, Hawkins P, Huff B, Huffine C, Mohr W, Seltzer T, Vaughn C, Whitehead K, Young CK. Unlicensed residential programs: the next challenge in protecting youth. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2006 Jul; 76(3):295-303.
  17. Colder, C, Lengua, L, Fite, P., Mott, J., & Bush, N. Temperament in context: Infant temperament moderates the relationship between perceived neighborhood quality and behavior problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 2006; (27):456-467.