Profile photo for Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
faculty primary mentor

Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Professor for the Study of Children's Health and Development

Shalev’s research entails an interdisciplinary approach to identify mechanisms underpinning the biological embedding of stress across the lifespan. His research combines the disciplines of molecular genetics, endocrinology, neurobiology and psychology. This systems approach integrates data sources across multiple levels of genomic, biomarkers and phenotypic data. Specifically, using innovative research designs, his research tests the effects of stress from early life on change in telomere length and other biomarkers of aging across the life course, and the consequences of change in telomere length for physical and mental health problems. In the first study of children, Shalev and colleagues showed that cumulative violence exposure was associated with accelerated telomere erosion, from age 5 to age 10 years, for children who experienced violence at a young age. This finding provided initial support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health. Shalev is the Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Professor for the Study of Children's Health and Development and an author of more than 50 scientific articles and chapters.
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Education

2004, B.Sc., Natural Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel 

2007, M.Sc., Neurobiology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

2010, Ph.D., Genetics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

2013, Postdoctoral, Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University


Expertise

stress biology, telomere science, genomics, biological embedding, biological aging, biomarkers, evolutionary theories of aging, experimental designs


Research Interests

stress biology, aging, telomeres, genomics


Labs


Courses

BBH 497

Special Topics Seminar - Biobehavioral Aspects of Aging 

BBH 432

Biobehavioral Aspects of Stress

Projects

Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
Biological embedding of early-life experiences: How early-life experiences impact childhood development and can accelerate aging

A project funded by the Sara van Dam Foundation (Roseriet Beijers, Radboud University, Netherlands PI, Shalev Co-I). Its aim is to test early-life factors associated with children’s socio-emotional development, cognition, and pubertal development. This includes biological-embedding mechanisms underlying this link. These research questions are being investigated in the Dutch BIBO-study (Basal Influences on the Baby Development): a prospective study in which 193 mothers and their children are followed from pregnancy until the last assessment at age 10. My lab is conducting all telomere length testing in children at both age 6 and 10.

Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
Complex interactions of behavior, genes, and environment in the multi-system characterization of the effects of sleep loss on health, cardio-metabolic disease risk, cognition, and the epigenome

The aim of this project is to comprehensively characterize cardio-metabolic, cognitive, genomic, and epigenetic effects of sleep insufficiency in a controlled laboratory setting. My lab assist with the collection and sorting of blood samples for DNA methylation and whole-genome expression analysis. For this study, we are further investigating specific type of cells including monocytes and lymphocytes.

Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
Intergenerational transmission of trauma? Testing cellular aging in mothers exposed to sexual abuse and their children

The overarching goal is to test the hypothesis of intergenerational transmission of trauma by measuring cellular aging in both mothers and children, members of the Female Growth and Development Study. Specifically, we are testing telomere length in mothers exposed to sexual abuse, control mothers, and their children.

Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
Temporal genomics mechanisms underlying disease and aging

The goal of this project is to identify genomic mechanisms involved in young adults’ response to stress, as moderated by early adversity. Specifically, we are testing whether individuals exposed to early-life adversity show dysregulated changes in gene expression in response to a well-established laboratory stressor, compared with a no-stress condition, and compared with individuals without exposure to early adversity.

Idan Shalev, Ph.D.
Child Maltreatment and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

This grant (R01HL158577; PI: Schreier) takes advantage of a large, well-characterized, prospective cohort of youth who were recently investigated for child maltreatment and comparison youth without a maltreatment history to better understand the physiological mechanisms between early adversity and cardiovascular diseases risk. By taking advantage of detailed assessments of immune function coupled with administrative health care records and thorough behavioral and psychosocial assessments, we will prospectively examine links between child maltreatment and cardiovascular disease risk, with the hopes of informing future prevention and intervention efforts.


Selected Grants

2017 – 2022

Penn State’s Translational Center for Child Maltreatment Studies (P50HD089922)

2016 – 2018

Biological embedding of early-life experiences: How early-life experiences impact childhood development and can accelerate aging

2017 – 2018

Early-life adversity and gene expression response to acute psychological stress

2018 – 2020

Temporal Genomics Mechanisms Underlying Disease and Aging


Selected Publications

  • Shalev, I. (2012). Early life stress and telomere length: investigating the connection and possible mechanisms: a critical survey of the evidence base, research methodology and basic biology. Bioessays34(11), 943-952.

  • Shalev, I., Moffitt, T. E., Sugden, K., Williams, B., Houts, R. M., Danese, A., ... & Caspi, A. (2013). Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study. Molecular Psychiatry18(5), 576.

  • Shalev, I., Moffitt, T. E., Braithwaite, A. W., Danese, A., Fleming, N. I., Goldman-Mellor, S., ... & Robertson, S. P. (2014). Internalizing disorders and leukocyte telomere erosion: a prospective study of depression, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Molecular Psychiatry19(11), 1163.

  • Shalev, I., & Belsky, J. (2016). Early-life stress and reproductive cost: a two-hit developmental model of accelerated aging? Medical Hypotheses90, 41-47.

  • Shalev, I., Heim, C. M., & Noll, J. G. (2016). Child maltreatment as a root cause of mortality disparities: a call for rigorous science to mobilize public investment in prevention and treatment. JAMA Psychiatry73(9), 897-898.