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Biobehavioral Laboratory

Dr. Prescott

With over 2,000 square feet of dedicated lab space, the College of Nursing Biobehavioral Lab is a key asset in nursing and interdisciplinary research at the University of South Florida. Our state-of-the-art equipment for sequencing and conducting biologic analyses allows us to ask (and answer!) complex questions about physiology, pathophysiology, and their relationship with psychosocial factors. 

Student in the CON Biobehavior Lab

Active Projects

The Maternal Oral Microbiome During Pregnancy- Analyze the maternal salivary microbiome, cortisol, and inflammatory cytokines for changes in diversity and abundance throughout pregnancy; Analyze relationships between the salivary microbiome throughout pregnancy, maternal self-reported stress/depression, cortisol levels, and adverse perinatal outcomes.

The microbiome in gestational diabetes: Contribution to race-related health disparities- We will compare the microbiomes of women with and without gestational diabetes to determine microbial signatures, then compare the microbiota of Latinx and White women to assess race-related signatures. We will examine the contribution of the diet, local environment, country of origin, years in the US, education level, BMI, socioeconomic status, perceived stress, and salivary cortisol to GDM status.

An AI-based multimodal approach to predict pain in perinatal care scenarios-Collect clinical information and multimodal data (facial expression, body movement, crying frequency, vital signs) for post-surgical pain prediction in neonates.

The Scientific Value of Premature Infant Biospecimens to Investigate Mechanisms in Neonatal Sepsis- Create small volume sample collection, processing, and storage practices that are rigorous, reproducible, and validated for use in multi-omic studies. We will use machine learning methods to develop new models of neonatal sepsis from stool, blood, and saliva for detection, differential diagnoses, and/or prediction of systemic inflammatory infection. Our multi-omic network will establish molecular targets (pathways, genes, and metabolites) for future experimental studies to validate proposed causal mechanisms in sepsis progression and recovery. 

Functional consequences of bacterial-fungal dysbiosis in E/VLBW infants- Study functional changes to the developing infant microbiome that are dependent on proper trans-kingdom interactions among bacterial and fungal communities. 

Chronic Toxoplasma gondii, Pregnancy reactivation, and Perinatal Depression- This study will contribute new knowledge to understandings of the pathophysiology of both T. gondii infection and depression in the perinatal period. The possible reactivation of the latent parasite will be examined in Hispanic women. We will explore the potential transmission of T.gondii to the fetus in mothers who are T.gondii positive.   

The Preterm Infant Microbiome: Biological, Behavioral and Health Outcomes at 2 and 4 years of Age- This is a prospective study of a cohort of VLBW infants initially studied in an R21 grant, with measures of human milk intake, milk immunobiology, fecal calprotectin levels and early health outcomes. We propose to study the microbiomes of these infants in the 6 weeks of preserved stool samples while they were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We will follow these infants through 4 years of age, studying the succession of the microbiome, and the relationships of microbiome to early and later health outcomes. 

The Association between Preterm Milk Immunobiology and Infant Health- Study the relationships between human milk immunity and milk volume with clinical outcomes and immune and enteral biomarkers in preterm infants while hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

The Administration of Time-Matched Breast Milk: Infant Sleep Protection and Promotion

The Impact of Maternal Sleep on Human Milk Oligosaccharides and Microbiome

BBL volunteers 2022

Biobehavioral Volunteer Program

Our volunteer program aims to provide a holistic biobehavioral laboratory experience for students with an interest in research and bench science. We host a diverse array of volunteers, including both undergraduate and graduate students from different disciplines (nursing, pre-medical, biotechnology, psychology, etc.) with varying levels of experience. No prior laboratory experience is required to join—we hope to foster an interest and passion in biobehavioral research in students from any background, as well as promote a sense of community, collaboration, and empowerment in STEM.

Our volunteers receive instruction and training in a variety of bench science methods including DNA extraction & sequencing, RNA extraction & sequencing, cell culturing, ELISA and multiplex ELISA. Volunteers are also given the opportunity to participate in ongoing research within the College of Nursing. We encourage poster presentations and manuscript development/authorship! Volunteers may obtain leadership positions in the lab.

BBL facility

Facilities/ Equipment

  • Dr. Stephanie Prescott Stephanie Prescott, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC
    Stephanie Prescott, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC
    Assistant Director, Biobehavioral Lab and Assistant Professor