Tutlam Receives $720,000 NIH Research Career Development Award to Address Intergenerational Trauma among Refugee Children in the United States

Tutlam presents at Public Health/ICHAD Speaker Series, September 2023 in Brown Lounge at WashU

Dr. Nhial Tutlam, assistant professor at the Brown School and associate director for research at the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD) at Washington University in St. Louis, was awarded the highly prestigious K01 Research Scientist Career Development Award. Over the next four years, this $720,000 award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will support Dr. Tutlam’s innovative research aimed at addressing mental health outcomes among youth from vulnerable refugee families resettled in the U.S. Importantly, this award will provide Dr. Tutlam with training in community-based intervention development, mixed methods, and implementation science research.

Dr. Tutlam’s study titled, Resettled Refugee Families for Healing (RRF4H): A Study of the Intergenerational Impact of War Trauma and Resilience, will test an intervention designed to enhance the mental health well-being of second-generation refugee children by addressing intergenerational trauma-related mental health symptoms. This intervention combines a family strengthening intervention that has been successfully implemented to address mental health challenges among families facing multiple adversities in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as a peer mentorship program called TeenAge Health Consultants (TAHC), which Dr. Tutlam implemented as part of a violence prevention program in St. Louis county schools. The project will be implemented in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, cities with large resettled refugee populations.

Dr. Tutlam said, “Despite the high prevalence of trauma-associated emotional and behavioral problems among these vulnerable youth, there are very few interventions to address them. Therefore, this work has the potential to transform the lives of countless youth, providing them with the support and resources they need to heal and thrive.”

As part of this award, Dr. Tutlam will be mentored by a panel of renowned scholars at Washington University in St. Louis: Dr. Fred Ssewamala, the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Public Health; Dr. Mary McKay, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives; Dr. Byron Powell, Associate Professor; Dr. Shenyang Guo, Frank J. Bruno Distinguished Professor of Social Work Research; as well as Dr. Theresa Betancourt, the Salem Professor in Global Practice, at Boston College.

Dr. Ssewamala said “The K01 Award is highly competitive, and this award reflects Dr. Tutlam’s exemplary skills as a scientist, asking the right questions and applying rigorous methods to answer these important questions. I know this is a topic he is very passionate about because his work is informed and motivated by his lived experience.”

“Dr. Tutlam’s innovative research aimed at addressing mental health outcomes among vulnerable youth from refugee families resettled in the U.S. is not only commendable but also demonstrates a deep understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by these communities,” said Dorian Traube, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School. “This award is a testament to his dedication and showcases the caliber of exceptional and skilled faculty we are proud to have at the Brown School,” she added.