Kaja Z. LeWinn, ScD, is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Heath and Society Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. LeWinn’s program of research explores how socioeconomic position is biologically embodied during childhood with the goal of understanding how disparities in health take root in early life. Her dissertation focused on how exposure to stress hormones during gestation and social disadvantage in early life influence cognitive performance in childhood. As a Scholar, Dr. LeWinn has extended this work by investigating how physiological responses to stress relate to both socioeconomic position and key behavioral and cognitive outcomes. In collaboration with the RWJ core faculty, she is using existing datasets to investigate 1) how dominance hierarchies established during kindergarten relate to social class and physiological reactivity and 2) the relationship between cortisol reactivity, social position, and cognitive performance. She is also the principle investigator of a novel pilot project that links brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with salient measures of child behavior to explore how socioeconomic position affects emotion regulation in children. In future projects, Dr. LeWinn would like to integrate physiological measures from the periphery (e.g. cardiovascular reactivity) and the central nervous system (e.g. brain activity measured by fMRI) to understand how socioeconomic position affects the mental and physical health of the developing child and ultimately presages well documented social disparities in adult health.
Dr. LeWinn received a Doctor of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Trinity College, Connecticut where she majored in Behavioral Neuroscience.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
2007 ScD, Social Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
1998 BS, Behavioral Neuroscience, Trinity College, CT
Society for Epidemiological Research
Society for Research in Child Development
American Public Health Association
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