Amanda L. Thompson

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Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anthropology

althomps@email.unc.edu

CPC Office: 137 E Franklin St, Room 3000C

Dr. Thompson's Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Thompson's Personal Home Page

Dr. Thompson's Google Scholar profile

Dr. Thompson's publications in PubMed

Dr. Thompson's CPC publications

Thompson is a biological anthropologist specializing in human growth and nutrition. Her research incorporates epidemiological methods, laboratory analysis of biomarkers, and demographic modeling to examine the effects of social and physical environments on the development of obesity and chronic disease precursors during the sensitive periods of infancy, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. She focuses on: sex differences in the association between hormones, body composition, and feeding during infancy; the effects of early diet on the development of the intestinal microbiome as an underlying pathway linking infant feeding and the development of obesity; and the structural, social and maternal and infant characteristics contributing to the development of an obesogenic environment. As a result of her postdoctoral training at CPC, Thompson’s research has expanded to include more explicitly population-related questions focused on exploring the biological pathways linking social environments, behavioral choices, and health outcomes from a developmental perspective.

This perspective can be seen in work examining the dietary and parenting style characteristics that contribute to rapid early weight gain and the creation of an obesogenic environment among African-American mothers and infants in North Carolina. This research takes an explicitly social science perspective, examining household-level predictors of child health. Other research shows that early feeding practices are associated with differential colonization of the intestinal microbiome, potentially linking breastfeeding and the introduction of complementary foods to long-term health outcomes such as immune function, metabolism and later-life obesity risk.

In a second set of projects, Thompson, funded by a NIH K01 award, exams the environmental, behavioral, and social predictors of inflammation in children, adolescents and adults participating in the China Health and Nutrition Survey (in collaboration with Gordon-Larsen, Adair, and Popkin). This work shows that simultaneous exposure to obesogenic and pathogenic environments associated with the process of urbanization places individuals at dual risk for the development of inflammation, a marker of cardiovascular risk across the life course. Other on-going work identifies shared and distinct environmental predictors of health at the household level in three generations of Chinese families to answer demographic questions about the role of the social and biological environment in shaping health across the life course.

Thompson will pull together these current streams of research – infant feeding practices, microbiome development, and inflammation – into two comparative projects in China and Ecuador. She will seek NIH R01 and NSF funding to investigate the effects of urbanization and changing birthing and infant feeding practices on the intestinal microbiome and its role in gut integrity, immune regulation, and the development of obesity longitudinally over the first two years of life. This multidisciplinary research is critical for understanding the intergenerational pathways linking social, behavioral and environmental impacts on health in the first 1000 days of life.

Primary Research Areas:

  • Population Health

  • Reproductive Health

Current Research Projects:

Information updated on 6/29/2017

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