William Fifer, PhD

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Overview

Dr. Fifer's early work focused on the effects of prenatal experience on infant behavior and perception with a specific interest in the role of fetal and newborn learning. Following his NIMH fellowship in Developmental Psychobiology his research interests expanded to studies of fetal, newborn and premature infant physiological and neurobehavioral responses to environmental stimulation during sleep and the effects of prenatal exposures on later neurodevelopment. He has active collaborations within the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Behavioral Medicine, and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia, Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

His NIH MERIT Award, the Sackler Institute and other NIH funding, support his current research on the effects of maternally mediated exposures on the developing fetus, early learning and memory, behavioral and cortical activity during environmental challenges, development of autonomic control during sleep, and assessment of risk for neurological disorders including sudden infant death, autism, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. He and his colleagues are currently involved in a large NIH funded fetal/infant cohort study in North and South Dakota and in Cape Town, South Africa.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry and Pediatrics) at CUMC

Gender

  • Male

Research

Dr. Fifer's research interests focus on fetal and neonatal behavioral, physiological and central nervous system development. Current investigations in his laboratory include studies of fetal, newborn and premature infant neurobehavioral responses to environmental stimulation during sleep and the effects of prenatal exposures on later neurodevelopment. With local, national and international colleagues, his laboratory studies the effects of maternally mediated exposures on the developing fetus, early learning and memory, behavioral and cortical activity during environmental challenges, development of autonomic control during sleep, and assessment of risk for neurological disorders including sudden infant death, autism, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. With Dr. Michael Myers and members of his laboratory he is currently involved in large fetal/infant cohort studies New York City , in North and South Dakota , and in Cape Town, South Africa.

Selected Publications

  • Fifer WP, Byrd DL, Kaku M, Eigsti IM, Isler JR, Grose-Fifer J, Tarullo AR, Balsam PD.: Newborn infants learn during sleep. Proceedings of the National Academy of Medicine 2010;107(22): 10320-3
  • Sahni R, Schulze KF, Ohira-Kist K, Kashyap S, Myers MM, Fifer WP: Interactions among peripheral perfusion, cardiac activity, oxygen saturation, thermal profile and body position in growing low birth weight infants. Acta Paediatrica 2010;99(1): 135-139
  • Fifer WP, Fingers ST, Youngman M, Gomez-Gribben E, Myers MM: Effects of alcohol and smoking during pregnancy on infant autonomic control. Developmental Psychobiology 2009;51(3): 234-242
  • Sahni R, Fifer WP, Myers MM.: Identifying infants at risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Current Opinions in Pediatrics 2007;19(2):145-9
  • Nomura Y, Brooks-Gunn J, Davey C, Ham J, Fifer WP.: The role of perinatal problems in risk of co-morbid psychiatric and medical disorders in adulthood. Psychological Medicine 2007;37(9): 1323-34