• Boyce, W. Thomas


    Scientist Level 3, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute

    Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies and Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

    Sunny Hill Health Centre-BC Leadership Chair in Child Development
    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Developmental Neurosciences & Child Health
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    Human Early Learning Partnership
    University of British Columbia
    Room 440, 2206 East Mall
    Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Developmental psychobiology/neurogenomics

    • Social epidemiology

    • Neuroscience of stress and adversity


    My research addresses the interplay among neurobiological and psychosocial processes that leads to socially partitioned differences in child health and development. Studying the interactive influences of socioeconomic adversities and neurobiological responses, this work has demonstrated how psychological stress and neurobiological reactivity to aversive social contexts operate conjointly to produce disorders of both physical and mental health in childhood populations.

    Current Projects

    Current research projects include:

    • A pilot study of deficits in prefrontal cortex development among children from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

    • A longitudinal study of how social subordination and marginality in early school settings affects mental and physical health in middle childhood and adolescence.

    • A cross-sectional study of maternal caretaking behavior as a determinant of methylation profiles among stress-responsive genes in human infants.

    • A large study of how socioeconomic status in middle childhood affects epigenetic markings among the stress-responsive genes.

    Selected Publications

    Boyce WT, Sokolowski MB, Robinson GE. Toward a new biology of social adversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012 Oct 16;109 Suppl 2:17143-8.

    Kim YS, Leventhal BL, Koh Y-J & Boyce WT. Bullying increased suicide risk: Prospective study of Korean adolescents. Archives of Suicide Research. 2009 Spring;13(1), 15-30.


    Ellis BJ, Boyce WT. Biological sensitivity to context. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2008 Jun;17(3):183-187.

    Boyce WT, Essex MJ, Alkon A, Goldsmith HH, Kraemer HC, Kupfer DJ. Early father involvement moderates biobehavioral susceptibility to mental health problems in middle childhood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 45(12):1510-20, 2006.

    Boyce WT. Social stratification, health and violence in the very young. Ann NY Acad Sci 1036: 47-68, 2005.

    Ellis BJ, Essex MJ, Boyce WT. Biological sensitivity to context: II. Tests of an evolutionary-developmental hypothesis. Development and Psychopathology 17 (2): 303-328, 2005.

    Boyce WT, Ellis BJ. Biological sensitivity to context: I. An evolutionary-developmental theory of the origins and functions of stress reactivity. Development and Psychopathology. 17 (2): 271-301, 2005.

    Honours & Awards
    • Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI), Brain Canada and W. Garfield Weston Foundation (2013)

    • Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

    • American Pediatric Society

    • Alfred Childs Distinguished Service Award, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

    • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

    • Board of Scientific Advisors, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

    • Co-Director, Experience-Based Brain and Biological Development Research Network, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

    Research Group Members
    • Jelena Obradović, PhD, Killam Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia

    • Nicki Bush, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

    • Nicole Catherine, Project Coordinator, Doctoral student in Educational Psychology, University of British Columbia

    • Jane Ng, MD, Pediatric resident, BC Children’s Hospital