ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
The goal of the conference is to investigate the interface between epigenetic research and the emotional process of the human family. It will explore the regulation of genetic expression by the social environment as well as the imprint of family relationships on the social and emotional functioning of each family member, including genetic expression.
The conference will examine how family emotional process in one generation influences the level of functioning in the next. The multigenerational concept of epigenetic transmission has an intriguing parallel to Bowen’s multigenerational transmission process through which emotional functioning is transmitted from generation to generation.
Welcome and Introduction
Epigenetic Processes Mediating the Effects of Early Life Experiences - Moshe Szyf, PhD
Social adversity in early life is known to have a long-lasting impact on the phenotype of offspring. Data support the hypothesis that system wide DNA methylation changes early in life in response to social environments occur in both humans and animals in a genome wide and system wide manner. These are proposed to be "adaptive genomic" mechanisms that prepares life-long genome programming to the anticipated life-long environment based on signals received during gestation and early life.
The Multigenerational Transmission Process - Daniel V. Papero, PhD, MSSW
The concept of the multigenerational transmission process in the Bowen theory deals with the transmission of degrees or maturity and immaturity across many generations in a family. The transmission process is believed to occur in the context of the family emotional system, particularly in the differential relationships between parents and their various offspring.
Maternal-Paternal Interplay and the Transmission of Neurobehavioral Variation - Frances A. Champagne, PhD
Though experience-dependent change in mothers has been demonstrated to alter the development of offspring, there is increasing evidence that father’s experiences can likewise induce developmental effects. A critical question within the context of these paternal effects is regarding the mechanism. I will discuss emerging evidence for the roles of both inherited epigenetic variation and paternally-induced variation in maternal care as potential routes through which fathers influence the development of their offspring.
Hypotheses Derived from Bowen Theory for Epigenetic Investigation - Randall T. Frost, MDiv
Growing evidence suggests that the relationship between behavior and the epigenome is bilateral. Behavior can result in epigenetic programming and epigenetic programming can affect behavior. Distinctive hypotheses derived from Bowen theory could guide investigation of the influence of family functioning on genetic expression.
The Role of Parental Care and Early Life Adversity in Shaping Mental Health Trajectories - Patrick O. McGowan, PhD
I will describe our studies examining the capacity of the epigenome to adapt to early life adversity and the quality of parental care that animals receive at critical periods of development. We have found that the epigenome responds to environmental signals in early life across wide regions of the genome. These epigenetic changes have the potential to serve as a mediator between the environment and our genome by refining developmental trajectories at an early age, with consequences for health outcomes that persist throughout life.
Variation and Variation - Anne S. McKnight, MSW, EdD
This presentation examines the similarity and differences between variation identified among animals in a trait such as maternal behavior and the variation in levels of differentiation as conceptualized in Bowen theory.
Neuropsychology of Mothering: Effects of Early Experience and Genetics - Alison S. Fleming, PhD
In most mammalian species, mothering motivation tends to increase after birth, and the quality of behavior depends on a shift in her appraisal of babies, an enhanced emotional sensitivity and alertness, and a change in cognitive function. I will describe studies that explore the effects of earlier experiences in family of origin on these systems and the interactive effects of early adversity and genetics on mothering and related behavioral systems.
A Systems Theory of Cancer - Michael E. Kerr, MD
One of Bowen theory's unique contributions to the life sciences is its description of emotional regression. An increasing number of research reports along with theorizing by physicist-oncologist, Paul Davies, support the idea that the cancer process reflects a regression in cellular relationship systems and, possibly, regression at the cellular level reflects regression at the human relationship system level.
Presentation of the Caskie Research Award
Gene-Environment Interplay and the Biology of Misfortune - W. Thomas Boyce, MD
Growing evidence suggests that children, including children from the same family, have distinctive levels of sensitivity to social contexts, rendering some differentially and exquisitely susceptible to the effects of both pathogenic and highly nurturing environments. Such differential susceptibility to context is likely an emergent property of gene-environment interplay and may constitute a biological substrate for the formation of "identified patients" as defined in family systems theory.
The Family Unit and the Differential Development of Adaptiveness among Children - Robert J. Noone, PhD
Individuals vary in their perceptions of and responsiveness to life challenges, resulting in differences in their vulnerability to the development of physical, emotional, and social symptoms. The family unit will be described as the principal factor in determining this variation.