Curt A. Sandman

Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry & Human Behavior
School of Medicine

PH.D., Louisiana State University

Phone: (714) 940-1924
Fax: (714) 940-1939

University of California, Irvine
SUITE 1200
ORANGE, CA 92868

picture of Curt A. Sandman

Current research is in the following areas: Opiate control of behavior, Perinatal stress as related to birth outcome, Aging and age related changes in memory, Computerized assessment of cognitive functions, Schizophrenia and EEG variability
Partial List of Honors
1971-1974 Assistant Professor of Psychology, Ohio State Univeristy, Columbus, OH
1974-1977 Associate Professor of Psychology, Ohio State Univeristy, Columbus, OH
1978-1979 Ful Professor of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
1979-2009 Director of Research, Fairview Developmental Center, Costa Mesa, CA
1979-2009 Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, School of Medicine, Irvine, CA
2001-2008 Director, Applied Neurodevelopment Research Institute, State of California
1992-2009 Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, School of Medicine, Irvine, CA

1979-present Editorial Board, Peptides, American Journal of Mental Retardation, Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
1977-present Study Sections and Review Committees NICHD, NIMH, NIA, VA Council (Chair)
1991 Nightingale Research Foundation Cambridge Faculty (Great Britain) Award
1993 IBM/Psychological Corporation THINKable Award
1996 American Association of Mental Retardation Distinguished Scientific Discovery Award for Studies of Biological Basis of Mental Retardation
1997 Chair, International Consensus Panel on Psychoactive Drugs; Section on Opiate Blockers
1997 Leader, NICHD; Workshop on Fetal Behavioral Development
1997-2001 NICHD Study Section (1999 Chair)
2000-2006 NIH Study Session Child Psychopatholgy and Developmental Disabilities
2007-present NIH Study Session Child Psychopatholgy and Developmental Disabilities
Professor Sandman with his collaborators at UCI (Wadhwa, Glynn, Davis), UCLA (Dunkel Schetter) and Cedars-Sinai (Hobel) have been exploring the effects of stress and specifically the HPA axis (POMC fragments) on developmental processes. In a series of studies in animal models, Professor Sandman had previously reported that in utero exposure of rats to high levels of beta endorphin (BE) delayed developmental milestones, permanently altered pain threshold, reduced exploration, influenced both active and passive avoidance responding, increased the expression of opioids and down-regulated dopamine receptors in the brains of these animals as adults.

During the past seventeen years Professor Sandman has been Principal Investigator for a series of studies that examined the effects of stress and activation of the HPA /placental axis on birth outcomes and on the human fetus. The findings from Professor Sandman’s projects that include over 800 women, contribute to the growing acceptance that maternal stress is a risk factor for poor birth outcomes. More recently Professor Sandman has examined the influence of the HPA and placental axis on the behavior of the human fetus and infant. Several published studies from his group have presented evidence that human fetal exposure to peptides/hormones from the stress axis alters fetal responses to stimulation with possible long term (programming) consequences for development. With his current grant, Professor Sandman is following his fetal cohorts as they enter childhood at 6 and 7 years of age. His project includes neuropsychological and temperament studies in these children in addition to measures of brain anatomy with the structural MRI. These will be the first prospective studies of brain development in children exposed as fetuses to stress and stress hormones.

Professor Sandman has received numerous awards over the last twenty years to study the relations between stress peptides and developmental problem in human subjects. His studies involve the largest number of subjects (over 500) exhibiting self-injurious behavior reported in the literature. His team has shown that the neuropeptides ACTH and B-endorphin are uncoupled after a self-injuring episode and that the degree of disregulation or uncoupling predicted positive responses to treatment with opiate blockers. Current studies are applying of chaos theory to in vivo observations of behavior. He has reported that self-injurious behavior was uniquely contagious. The current project extends these findings to examine complex temporal patterns of behavior that are not sequentially dependent. With a special non-linear calculus, Sandman’s group is examining hierarchical patterns of behavior and have suggested that self-injury may be a "Strange Attractor."

Sandman, CA and Glynn, LM (2009). Corticotropin-releasing hormone programs the fetal and maternal brain. Future Neurology, 4,257-261.

Buss, C., Davis, E, P. Muftuler, L. T., Head, K., & Sandman, C. A. (2010) High pregnancy anxiety during mid-gestation is associated with decreased gray matter density in 6-9-year old children. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35, 141-153.

Davis, E.P & Sandman, C.A. (2010) The timing of prenatal exposure to maternal cortisol and psychosocial stress is associated with human infant cognitive development. Child Development, 81, 131-148.

Class, Q.A., Buss, C., Davis, E.P., Gierczak, M., Pattillo, C., Chicz-DeMet, A., & Sandman, C.A. (2008). Low levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone during early pregnancy are associated with precocious maturation of the human fetus. Developmental Neuroscience, 30(6), 419-26.

Sandman, C.A., Touchette, P.E., Marion, S.D., & Chicz-DeMet, A. (2008). The role of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) in sequentially dependent self-injurious behavior. Developmental Psychobiology, 50, 680-689.

Sandman, C.A., & Kemp, A.S. (2007). Neuroscience of developmental disorders. In S.L. Odom, R.H. Horner, M. Snell, & J. Blacher (Eds.), Handbook on Developmental Disorders (pp. 129-158). New York: Guilford Press.

Sandman, C.A. (2009). Efficacy of Opioid Antagonists in Attenuating Self-Injurious Behavior. In R. Dean, E. Bilsky, & S. Negus (Eds.), Opiate receptors and antagonists: From bench to clinic (pp. 457-472). New York: Humana Press.

Sandman, C.A. (2009). Psychopharmacologic Treatment of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury. In M.K. Nock (Ed.), Understanding non-suicidal self-injury: Current science and practice (pp. 291-322). Washington DC: American Psychological Association Press.
Grants CURRENT ACTIVE GRANTS R01/HD051852 Sandman (PI) 07/06-06/11 NIH/NICHD; Role: PI Fetal Programming of Early Development The main objective of this study is to examine the developmental outcomes of children who were exposed to prenatal stress, namely the peptide corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). Emotional regulation, cognition, anatomy of brain structures, and HPA axis regulation will be measured in children who have an extensive history of prenatal stress exposure.
R01/HD048947 Sandman (PI) 04/06-03/11 NIH/NICHD; Role: PI Emergence of SIB in Developmentally Delayed Individuals The primary aim of this study is to examine the patterns of self-injurious behavior (SIB) in developmentally delayed individuals and determine its relation to environmental and biological factors. There is particular interest in what initiates a contagious cycle of SIB, whether it is an interaction of environmental events or a biological contributor from the HPA axis.
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Last updated 03/19/2010