Dante Cicchetti, a pioneer in the field of child development and founder and former director of the University of Rochester's Mt. Hope Family Center for two decades, has received the 2012 Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize. The award recognizes Cicchetti's 30 years of research on the "consequences of child maltreatment and neglect, as well as the conditions that lead to resilience–the psychological capacity to withstand difficult life conditions."
The prize, given by the Zurich-based Jacobs Foundation, comes with an award of one million Swiss francs (US $1.06 million).
A professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota since 2005, Cicchetti continues to be a principle investigator on multiple grants at Mt. Hope Family Center and intends to use a portion of the cash prize to support this collaborative work.
Cicchetti is widely recognized for his research with high-risk and disenfranchised populations, including children from families struggling with abuse and depression. He has played a seminal role in bringing together theory, research, and clinical practice in the field of child development and is known as a tireless advocate for the translation of research findings into effective interventions and social policy.
"To see the positive and not just the problems–this is crucial when studying the development and resilience of maltreated children," said Cicchetti. "It's a dynamic process. There are things that can be done to promote resilience–even when children have had terrible experiences at a very early age."
The author of more than 450 articles, books, and other works, Cicchetti's research has shaped the field of developmental psychopathology, a branch of psychology that incorporates other sciences, such as biology, genetics, and sociology, to explain normal and abnormal development. More recently, he has documented the effects that violence and other abuse have on brain development and physical health. He is the founder and continues to serve as editor of the Rochester-based journal Development and Psychopathology, one of the highest impact publications in its field.
Cicchetti received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and taught at Harvard University before joining the Rochester faculty in 1985. At Minnesota he holds the McKnight Presidential Chair and William Harris Professor of Child Development and Psychiatry. He has won numerous national and international awards, including the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development, the G. Stanley Hall Award for Significant Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest, also from the APA.
Founded in 1979, Mt. Hope Family Center is one of the nation's leading research sites for the study of trauma on child development and family relationships. The center helps to break the cycle of maltreatment by providing support for parents and children though treatment, prevention, research, and training in the areas of human development, child maltreatment, and mental disorders.
The Jacobs Foundation, founded in 1989 by Klaus Jacobs, promotes child and youth development worldwide by funding research and intervention programs. The foundation will present the Jacobs Research Prize on Friday, Dec.7 at the University of Zurich.