Research in Pediatric Psychology

The research mission of the Division is to advance knowledge of the interplay between development, behavior, and health. Faculty within the Division of Pediatric Psychology are engaged in innovative and collaborative clinical and health services research programs.  Current research programs are related to eating/feeding behavior, obesity, sleep disorders, integrated behavioral health, adherence to chronic illness treatment regimens, transition from pediatric to adult centered care, differences of sex development, and health-related quality of life. Research in the Division is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the American Heart Association, private foundations, and internally through University of Michigan initiatives.



Melissa N. Andersen, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Andersen's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Andersen's research focuses broadly on developmental, behavioral, and psychological support for hospitalized infants and young children and their families. Specific areas of interest include neuroprotective and neuropromotive care for infants born prematurely and with medical conditions, promoting oral feeding skill acquisition and preventing feeding problems in hospitalized infants, and psychological support in the NICU.


Jennifer Butcher, Ph.D.

Jennifer L. Butcher, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Butcher's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Butcher is a pediatric psychologist whose research is focused on utilizing the strength of the parent-child relationship to promote illness self-management and developmental/psychosocial functioning in children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) and congenital heart disease (CHD). Dr. Butcher is the lead psychologist in the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center Neurodevelopmental Birth to Three Follow-Up Program and is involved in projects studying how early parenting practices influence developmental/psychosocial outcomes for young children diagnosed with CHD. Dr. Butcher has funding from the CF Foundation to participate in a national consortium focused on promoting illness self-management for individuals diagnosed with CF. She is interested in projects that teach parents how to overcome child behavioral challenges that interfere with management of the child’s chronic illness.     


Melissa Cousino, Ph.D.
Melissa K. Cousino, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Cousino's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Cousino provides clinical care to pediatric patients with end-stage organ and cardiac diseases. She serves as Director of Psychosocial Services and Research for the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center. Dr. Cousino leads a program of research funded by the National Institute of Health focused on healthcare communication, medical decision making, mental health and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric advanced heart disease. Most recently, Dr. Cousino received funding from Additional Ventures and Enduring Hearts to examine the role of psychological resilience in pediatric and young adult patients with single ventricle heart disease. She and her collaborators are developing innovative interventions to promote resilience and wellbeing in patients with heart disease and their families. She also collaborates with multidisciplinary pediatric transplant researchers to study adherence, transition readiness, and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric solid organ transplant.


Dawn J. Dore - Stites, Ph.D.

Dawn J. Dore-Stites, Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Dore-Stites Michigan Experts page

Dr. Dore-Stites’ primary responsibilities include clinical care in the Pediatric Elimination Disorders Clinic, Pediatric Sleep Clinic and Pediatric Diabetes Clinic. Her research crosses these areas and includes identification of strategies to increase adherence to CPAP for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, screening for sleep problems among chronically ill patients and determining factors critical to the treatment of children and adolescents with elimination disorders.    


Emily Fredericks, Ph.D.

Emily M. Fredericks, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor

Dr. Fredericks Michigan Experts page

Dr. Fredericks is a pediatric psychologist whose clinical and research activities aim to improve psychosocial functioning and health outcomes among children and adolescents who have undergone solid organ transplantation. The main focus of Dr. Fredericks' research is on the development of tailored intervention programs to enhance medication adherence in pediatric solid organ transplant recipients, with emphasis on promoting self-management skills among adolescents preparing to transition from pediatric to adult-centered health care. Additional research interests include the use of mobile technology to promote positive health behaviors, and the impact of sleep disorders on health status in children with chronic health conditions. Further information about Dr. Fredericks’  research program can be found at: 


Bethany J. Gaffka, Ph.D.

Bethany J. Gaffka, Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Gaffka's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Gaffka is a pediatric psychologist whose research focuses on improving treatment outcomes for obese youth enrolled in family-based behavioral weight management programs. Specifically, Dr. Gaffka's research agenda is aimed at 1. Determining parental factors that may contribute to significant child weight loss, 2. Developing innovative theory-based interventions to ultimately improve treatment outcomes, and 3. Identifying barriers to long-term retention in pediatric weight management treatment. Currently, Dr. Gaffka is funded by the American Heart Association to implement and evaluate a parent-based obesity intervention for preschoolers attending Head Start.  Additionally, she has research funding from the Division of Pediatric Psychology to investigate the mechanisms through which parents influence child weight status during participation in a structured family-based weight management program. Dr. Gaffka's other research projects include examining psychosocial predictors of attrition and weight loss in pediatric weight management programs, the role of sleep in weight management efforts, and strategies to improve retention in adolescent bariatric surgery follow-up.


 Kristin Kullgren, PhD

Kristin A. Kullgren, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Kullgren's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Kullgren is a pediatric psychologist whose clinical, research and quality improvement work focuses on issues facing youth admitted to the hospital and the teams that support their care. Her research and quality improvement activities focus on innovative interventions at the bedside as well as the development of systemic interventions to improve care and reduce costs. Dr. Kullgren collaborates with the medical teams to improve the quality of their care with specific focus on youth with somatic symptom disorders.

Blake Lancaster, Ph.D. 

Blake M. Lancaster, Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Lancaster's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Lancaster is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Health System in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the Division of Pediatric Psychology.  He is the Director of the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program and the Predoctoral Psychology Internship Program.  Dr. Lancaster received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University, and completed his internship and post-doctoral training at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska where he also served as a junior faculty member.  His clinical practice focuses on providing behavioral health services in primary care pediatric settings using the integrated behavioral health co-location model.  This integrated approach allows for the simultaneous treatment of both the mind and body of children by directly integrating behavioral health providers into the primary care medical setting.  He delivers empirically-based treatments for a wide variety of behavioral health concerns that arise in primary care such as sleep problems, toileting issues, ADHD problems, anxiety, depression and general behavior problems.   Dr. Lancaster’s research focuses on the complete evaluation of the integrated approach in primary care.  He is interested in evaluating the impact of this IBH model on overall pediatric health outcomes, the economic impact of the IBH model, and he is interested in evaluating how the IBH model impacts pediatrician medical practice.  


 David Sandberg, Ph.D.

David E. Sandberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Sandberg's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Sandberg's research program focuses on the psychosocial and health-related quality of life status of children and adolescents born with medical conditions affecting somatic sex development (i.e., disorders/differences of sex development – DSD) and their families. He is a principal investigator (PI) for a registry-based translational research network designed to extend discoveries in the genetics and pathophysiology of DSD (DSD-Translational Research Network, NIH R01 HD068138, The network is standardizing procedures in phenotyping (medical and psychosocial), diagnosis and clinical care necessary to translate diagnostic and treatment protocols into clinical practice guidelines. Dr. Sandberg’s work in DSD extends to the development of decision aids to support the process of shared decision-making (PCORI #1360). Further details of Dr. Sandberg’s research program:



Eric Scott, Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Scott's Michigan Experts page

Dr. Scott helps children, adolescents and their families increase their capacity to engage in a full and active life despite having pain. It is becoming clearer that some individuals are at greater risk for developing ongoing pain and retaining pain well after surgery or their injury has healed. Early identification of individuals prone to having pain and intervening in a timely fashion may prevent much of the difficulty and devastation that pain often brings to their lives. Early intervention by an interdisciplinary pain team, of which Dr. Scott is a part, called the Michigan Pediatric and Adolescent Interdisciplinary Network (MiPAIN) is a place where individual patients and their families are getting the treatment they need to return to an active lifestyle. It also provides ample opportunity to discover precisely what within the treatments are the most effective elements. Dr. Scott and his team at the University of Michigan is working to advance the knowledge and science behind what works for the treatment of pediatric and adolescent pain.