Emma Childs

emma childs
Department of Psychiatry
University of Illinois at Chicago
1601 W Taylor Street (MC/912),
Room # 414, Chicago, IL 60613
Office Phone: 312-355-2726
E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Childs E, White T, de Wit H (2014) Personality traits modulate emotional and physiological responses to acute stress. Behav Pharmacol. 25(5-6):493-502. PMCID: PMC4119514.

Childs E. (2014) Energy drink ingredients: influence on mood and cognitive performance. Nutr Rev. 72 Suppl 1:48-59. PMC Journal – In Process.

Childs E, de Wit H. (2014) Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in Physiology. 5:161. PMCID: PMC4013452.

Mayo L, Fraser D, Childs E, Momenan R, Hommer D, de Wit H, Heilig M (2013). Conditioned preference to a methamphetamine-associated contextual cue in humans. Neuropsychopharmacology. 38(6):921-9. PMCID: PMC3629404.

Childs E, de Wit H. (2013) Contextual conditioning enhances the psychostimulant and incentive properties of d-amphetamine in humans. Addict Biol. 18(6):985-92. PMC Journal – In Process.

Dlugos A, Childs E, Stuhr K, Hillard CJ, de Wit H. (2012). Acute stress increases circulating anadamide and other N-Acylethanolamines in Healthy Humans. Neuropsychopharmacology. 37(11):2416-27. PMCID: PMC3442338.

Childs E, Roche DJO, King AC, de Wit H (2012) Varenicline potentiates alcohol-induced negative subjective responses and offsets impaired eye movements. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. PMCID: PMC3342420.

Stolerman IP, Childs E, Ford MM, Grant KA. (2011). The role of training dose in drug discrimination: a review. Behavioural Pharmacology. 22(5-6):415-29. PMCID: PMC3155633.

Childs E, O’Connor S, de Wit H. (2011) Bidirectional interactions between acute psychosocial stress and acute intravenous alcohol in healthy men. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 35(10): 1794-803. PMCID: PMC3183385

Childs E, de Wit H. (2010) Effects of acute psychosocial stress upon cigarette craving and smoking. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 12(4):449-53. PMCID: PMC2847070.

Emma Childs, Ph.D.

Visiting Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Dr. Emma Childs is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and Director of The Human Addiction Psychopharmacology laboratory. Dr Childs’ research is dedicated to improving our understanding of addictive disorders. One of her primary areas of interest is studying how powerful associations are formed between abused drugs and the people, places and paraphernalia surrounding drug use (i.e., cues). These links are especially persistent in drug addicted individuals and represent a major barrier to the successful treatment of addiction because they can trigger relapse even after long periods of abstinence. Other areas of interest include individual factors that contribute to substance abuse and dependence. For example, genetic, personality, environmental (including stress) and physiological (including sex) factors can all influence an individual’s risk to develop a substance use disorder.

Dr. Childs received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Pharmacology from King’s College London, UK. She then completed post-doctoral training with Professor Harriet de Wit at the University of Chicago, subsequently becoming a junior member of faculty in the Department of Psychiatry. Recently, she joined the UIC Department of Psychiatry and is currently funded by grants awarded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


Research Society on Alcoholism
The Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior
Association for Behavioral Analysis International
Society for Neuroscience

Link to Childs lab Click Here


The Psychiatric Institute

The goals of the Psychiatric Institute (PI), which is directed by Dr. Alessandro Guidotti, are to investigate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in regulating neuronal gene expression in the brain. The reversible modulation of gene function mediated through changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications is tightly regulated and is responsible for coordinating neuronal structure and function during development and in the adult. The programmatic focus is to examine DNA methylation marks and histone modifications as related to altered transcription profiles of sets of genes in the course of schizophrenia and autism. At a recent Society for Neuroscience Symposium lecture, Dr. Dennis R. Grayson, spoke about his ongoing efforts in studying DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation patterns in DNA from post-mortem cerebella from autism spectrum disorder subjects. In addition to the use of post-mortem brain specimens, researchers at the PI, including Drs. Erbo Dong and James Auta, are studying the effects of prenatal stress in animals as a means of modeling psychiatric behaviors in rodents. Collectively, we are investigating mechanisms by which psychiatrists may be able to reverse altered gene expression programs in the brain through the development of new pharmaceutical strategies. Another program being explored by Drs. Rajiv P. Sharma and John M. Davis involves examining DNA methylation of schizophrenia and non-psychiatric subjects for the presence of epigenetic biomarkers that may be useful in detecting schizophrenia at early stages of the disorder. The hope is to use this information for the development of hypothesis-designed pharmaceuticals aimed at altering chromatin structure.

In addition to the above studies, research at the PI includes studies of basic aspects of neuronal function and neuronal circuitry in vitro and in vivo. Dr. John Larson studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory formation. Dr. Neil Smalheiser is examining endogenous siRNAs and noncoding RNA-derived small RNAs expressed in adult mouse hippocampus. Dr. Graziano Pinna investigates mouse models of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); investigating the mechanism of action of antidepressants. Dr. Lech Kiedrowski studies intracellular zinc homeostasis in hippocampal neurons. Dr. Ghanshyam Pandey, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Mood Disorders and Suicide Research, is also a member of the PI and he makes a significant contribution in research related to depression, bipolar illness, and suicide.


The Department of Psychiatry


Anand Kumar, MD
Professor and Head

The Department of Psychiatry is dedicated to outstanding research, education and service focused on major psychiatric disorders and mental well being. We strive to further new, readily useful knowledge in neuroscience, prevention, and social and clinical areas that will benefit people with mental illnesses, their families and communities. We are committed to UIC's urban mission to provide service, education and research that enhances lives. We deliver the highest quality mental health services with sensitivity and respect to the patient and her/his family. We are dedicated to mental health research to ameliorate illness until cure is found and ultimately to prevent illness and disorder. We are dedicated to instilling in our students and trainees cutting-edge knowledge and skills, respect for patients, and the values of a health professional in a just and humane society.

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