Elizabeth Jane Costello

Elizabeth Jane Costello

Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

External Address: 
Brightleaf Sq Ste 22, 905 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Internal Office Address: 
Box 3454 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710


Developmental epidemiology applies the research methods of findings of developmental science to epidemiology--the study of patterns of disease distribution in time and space. Developmental epidemiology can cover the life span, but my own work concentrates on childhood and adolescence. I study change and continuity in psychiatric disorders, in the context of change and
continuity in the risk factors for those disorders.

An important application of the work of the Developmental Epidemiology Program, of which I am Co-Director, is examining the need for, and use of, mental health services for children. This work sets the study of the mental health care system for children and adolescents within a conceptual
framework which permits use of estimate unmet needs as well as identifying appropriate areas for preventive interventions. I am carrying out a longitudinal study based on 4,500 randomly selected children and adolescents living in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. Findings from this study provide important information for federal and local policy makers, while at the same time testing ideas about the development of risk and resilience.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of London (United Kingdom) 1981

Selected Grants

Developmental methylomics of childhood trauma and its health consequences awarded by Virginia Commonwealth University (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Diseases of Despair in Young Adulthood: Risk, Resilience, and Prevention awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018

Early Substance Use in Rural American Indian and White/Anglo Youth awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Vulnerability to Drug Abuse:Pathways to Recovery awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2017

Early Substance Use in Rural American Indian and White/Anglo Youth awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Collaborator). 2016 to 2017

Pathways From Maltreatment to Substance Abuse awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2010 to 2016

Gene-Environment Interplay, Development, and Emotional Disorders awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2008 to 2014

A developmental model of gene-environment interplay in SUDs awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2014

Prefrontal Function in Adolescent Limited vs Life Course Persistent SUD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2008 to 2014

Sex, stress, emotional disorders: uniting preclinical and epidemiologic research awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2012


Costello, E. J., and A. Angold. “Developmental Epidemiology.” Developmental Psychopathology: Second Edition, vol. 1, 2015, pp. 41–75. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9780470939383.ch3. Full Text

Loeber, R., et al. “Gender and the development of aggression, disruptive behavior, and delinquency from childhood to early adulthood.” Disruptive Behavior Disorders, 2013, pp. 137–60. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-7557-6_6. Full Text

Costello, E. J., et al. “The developmental epidemiology of anxiety disorders: Phenomenology, prevalence, and comorbidity.” Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents, Second Edition, 2011, pp. 56–75. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511994920.004. Full Text

Costello, E. J. “Phobias in Childhood and Adolescence: Implications for Public Policy.” Phobias, vol. 7, 2005, pp. 297–99. Scopus, doi:10.1002/0470014113.ch5. Full Text

Angold, A., et al. “Puberty and depression.” Gender Differences at Puberty, 2003, pp. 137–64. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511489716.009. Full Text

Choo, Candy Sc, et al. “Regarding: Optimal timing for inguinal hernia repair in premature infants: A systematic review and meta-analysis.J Pediatr Surg, vol. 56, no. 5, May 2021, pp. 1083–84. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.12.030. Full Text

Polimanti, Renato, et al. “Leveraging genome-wide data to investigate differences between opioid use vs. opioid dependence in 41,176 individuals from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.Mol Psychiatry, vol. 25, no. 8, Aug. 2020, pp. 1673–87. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41380-020-0677-9. Full Text

Copeland, William E., et al. “Associations of Despair With Suicidality and Substance Misuse Among Young Adults.Jama Netw Open, vol. 3, no. 6, June 2020, p. e208627. Pubmed, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.8627. Full Text

Singh, Parvati, et al. “Income dividends and subjective survival in a Cherokee Indian cohort: a quasi-experiment.Biodemography Soc Biol, vol. 65, no. 2, Apr. 2020, pp. 172–87. Pubmed, doi:10.1080/19485565.2020.1730155. Full Text

Copeland, William E., et al. “Early Pubertal Timing and Testosterone Associated With Higher Levels of Adolescent Depression in Girls.J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, vol. 58, no. 12, Dec. 2019, pp. 1197–206. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2019.02.007. Full Text

Gifford, Elizabeth J., et al. “Association of Parental Incarceration With Psychiatric and Functional Outcomes of Young Adults.Jama Netw Open, vol. 2, no. 8, Aug. 2019, p. e1910005. Pubmed, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.10005. Full Text Open Access Copy

Shanahan, Lilly, et al. “Does Despair Really Kill? A Roadmap for an Evidence-Based Answer.Am J Public Health, vol. 109, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 854–58. Pubmed, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305016. Full Text

Copeland, William E., et al. “Association of Childhood Trauma Exposure With Adult Psychiatric Disorders and Functional Outcomes.Jama Netw Open, vol. 1, no. 7, Nov. 2018, p. e184493. Pubmed, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4493. Full Text

Eg, Julie, et al. “Self- and parent-reported depressive symptoms rated by the mood and feelings questionnaire.Psychiatry Res, vol. 268, Oct. 2018, pp. 419–25. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2018.07.016. Full Text

Akee, Randall, et al. “How Does Household Income Affect Child Personality Traits and Behaviors?Am Econ Rev, vol. 108, no. 3, Mar. 2018, pp. 775–827. Pubmed, doi:10.1257/aer.20160133. Full Text