In the News Research

Dr. Jessica Riggs Receives 2024 Emerging Scholar Award

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Dr. Jessica Riggs Honored with 2024 Hiram Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher Award for Contributions to Infant Mental Health

Dr. Jessica Riggs, Assistant Professor at Zero To Thrive in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, has been honored with the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) 2024 Hiram Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher Award. Dr. Riggs is recognized for her innovative research advancing the field of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH), with a special focus on strengthening early relationships and supporting research and clinical practices that hold a social justice lens to address racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other inequities embedded in systems affecting young children and their families.

The MI-AIMH award announcement included glowing recognition of her passion for the field of infant mental health, demonstrated by her extensive research and clinical expertise. “Dr. Riggs holds a clear passion for and commitment to clinical science, as evidenced by her productive and high-quality research. She thoughtfully addresses health equity and considers culturally responsive approaches to working with and understanding the experiences of families who face structural inequities and forms of oppression and marginalization.”

The award communication goes on to say, “Her expertise in the assessment of early relationships is reflected in the number of highly complex methods she employs in her attachment-oriented research… This breadth of expertise speaks not only to the depth of her attachment training and knowledge but also to her clear observational skills and insight.”

Reflecting on her journey, Dr. Riggs expressed profound gratitude for the MI-AIMH community and also expressed why she feels this work is so meaningful “By allowing ourselves to focus on relationships beginning in pregnancy, and infancy, we are allowing ourselves to see the truth of all things. That who we are matters, even if we are very small, and cannot speak for ourselves. And that no matter our age, we can always reflect and revisit our past, and empower ourselves to celebrate the wisdom that brought us to this space, as well as the power to change what no longer serves us.”

Her commitment to this field is evident not only in her scholarly achievements but also in her clinical practice, where she mentors and trains the next generation of mental health professionals. Dr. Riggs’s work underscores the significance of early relationships, advocating for a holistic understanding of mental and relational health from the start of life.

Dr. Riggs obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Michigan University in 2019, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2021. Zero To Thrive is incredibly grateful for Jessica’s constant and unwavering dedication to the field of infant mental health, her leadership within Michigan Medicine, and the countless lives she touches.

Publications Research

Examining the Link Between ACE’s and Placental Cortisol Dysregulation

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are extremely prevalent in the United States population. Although ACEs occurs in childhood, exposure to them has been associated with adverse future pregnancy outcomes and an increased risk of poorer social determinants of health, which further drive the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes.


Unlike other mental health conditions, such as depression, which is routinely screened for in obstetric care, ACE screening during pregnancy is not consistently performed. As a result, prior trauma often goes unrecognized, missing an opportunity for intervention.

Additionally, the negative health and pregnancy outcomes associated with ACEs are only beginning to be explored. Gaining an accurate physiologic understanding of how ACEs can adversely affect pregnancy and the health of offspring would provide an evidence-based rationale for implementing ACE screening as part of routine obstetric care. It would also advance our scientific understanding of the biological mechanisms behind the transmission of

historical trauma from mother to child and promote the health of future generations by enabling risk stratification of mothers and neonates who may benefit from early interventions.

In the paper, “Placental Cortisol Dysregulation in Mothers with Experiences of Childhood Adversity: Potential Mechanisms and Clinical Implications” Dr Maria Muzik, Dr. Joshua George and Dr. Courtney Townsel, continue to examine the exact biological pathway underlying this intergenerational passage of risk.

In the News Research

Celebrating Research Excellence in Women’s Health!

Maria Muzik, MD, MSc and Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, PhD, from Zero To Thrive, were honored for their research as recipients of the 2023 Woman’s Health Innovation Fund Award.


Their study, “The role of medical discrimination on racial health disparities in perinatal outcomes,” aims to delve into the critical issue of medical discrimination experienced by Black women during pregnancy and its implications for postpartum mental health, infant birthweight, gestational age at birth, and infant development at 6 months.


The study seeks to assess the quality of prenatal healthcare, experiences of medical discrimination, and peripartum morbidity and infant outcomes. Their findings will serve as a pivotal step towards understanding and addressing perinatal healthcare disparities among marginalized communities.


This award issued by the University of Michigan Health Von Voigtlander Woman’s Hospital, the Woman’s Health Innovation Fund provides resources to physicians and researchers in the early stages of launching important scientific research on women’s health topics. This support

helps to advance the creative concepts and revolutionary studies that could lead to the next big breakthrough in medicine. Read more about the award and the other research project that were honored here.

Publications Research

New Publication: Journal of Clinical Medicine

A new article has been published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine titled: Evaluation of the Michigan Clinical Consultation and Care Program discussing an evidence-based approach to perinatal mental healthcare.


Zero to Thrive Translational Network Fall Meeting


Post-Election Policy

Rapid Response Talks

Wednesday, December 9 from 3:00-5:00pm

The Zero to Thrive Translational Network invites you to join us for our fall meeting: Post Election Policy Rapid Response Talks. The Translational Network faculty panel, leading national experts in their fields, will highlight how issues of racial justice and injustice impact young children and families. The Rapid Response Talks seek to engage both faculty and the policy community in conversation regarding key topics relevant for pregnant women and families with young children, with a focus on current events and policy implications of the November election. This timely and energizing discussion presents an important and exciting opportunity for sharing key information to translate faculty research expertise to make a difference for children and families.

Alicia Guevara Warren, MPAff.


Director of Statewide Policy Initiatives,

Early Childhood Investment Corporation

Nell Duke,

Professor in Literacy, Language, and Culture

in Education and Psychology

Nicole Gardner-Neblett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

of Psychology, College

of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Alexis Handal,
Ph.D., MPH

Associate Professor,


School of Public Health

Kara Zivin,
Ph.D., MA, MS

Professor of Psychiatry;

Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Health Management and Policy

Questions? Please contact Lynette Biery, Zero to Thrive Strategic Director, at

If you are unable to participate at the scheduled time, this meeting will be recorded and available to view at a later time on the Zero to Thrive website.

När den begärda varan har mottagits skickar apoteket hjälp webbplats en hämtningskod till kunden så att denne kan hämta ut läkemedlet. Elektroniska recept hjälper patienter att minska antalet läkarbesök.