Amy Elliott, PhD, Lab

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Primary Research Group

Population Health

Secondary Research Groups

Environmental Influences on Health & Disease
Genetics & Genomics

Dr. Elliott Bio

  • Senior Director, Community Health Outcomes and Population Research
  • Scientist, Population Health Group
Academic Affiliations
  • Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Ob-Gyn, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota
  • Division Co-Chief, Research, Department of Pediatrics, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, University of South Dakota

Research Interests and Expertise

Dr. Elliott is the principal investigator for numerous large longitudinal research studies, including the Safe Passage Study (NICHD U01HD045935) and Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO, NIH UG30D023279. She is also the principal investigator for the NIMHD Transdisciplinary Research Center entitled the ‘Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health’ that brings together tribal communities and health researchers within South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota (NIMHD, U54MD008164). Dr. Elliott’s research in the effects of prenatal exposures on fetal, infant and child health occurs through collaborations with investigators and communities across the United States, as well as in South Africa.

Current Projects:

Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health

The Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) was formed in September 2012 upon receipt of a grant from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities. This five-year grant creates a communication and infrastructure platform that brings together Tribal communities and health researchers, from multiple disciplines, to work in the development of cutting-edge transdisciplinary research that will address the significant health disparities experienced by American Indians in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. A central component of CRCAIH is the Community Engagement and Innovation Division. This division works directly with tribally-employed community liaisons to develop each tribe’s research infrastructure according to specifications and requirements set forth by each Tribal nation.

The CRCAIH is a transdisciplinary center that embraces a “social determinants of health” theme and serves to advance research through three research projects in pediatric asthma self-management, kidney transplant donation education, and emergency room utilization. In conjunction, the Center offers pilot grants and other resources/curriculum or education in research culture/bioethics, regulation and methodology.

These studies, along with the pilot projects, will serve as models and demonstrations of the high quality research that is possible through the partnerships of the CRCAIH. The CRCAIH was created through the vision and collective expertise of numerous partners. Collaborators on the grant include: Oglala Sioux Tribe (Pine Ridge), Spirit Lake Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sanford Health, South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Missouri Breaks Industries Research, Rapid City Regional, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and KAT Communications. (Elliott – PI, NIMHD U54-MD008164)

Prenatal Exposures on Health Outcomes

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Epidemiological Research (FASER): FASER is a study of the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) among first graders in Sioux Falls. All public and private elementary schools in Sioux Falls participated and the data collected included growth parameters, dysmorphology evaluation, psychological testing and maternal interviews. FASER has also supported ancillary studies in DNA methylation (PI - Puumala) and microarrays. The prevalence study has finished and a study of anthropometry is now being completed in all Sioux Falls public schools. (May/Hoyme/Elliott – Co-PI, NIAAA U01-AA019894)

Safe Passage Study: In a prospective study to investigate the role of prenatal alcohol exposure in stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome, the Northern Plains collaborates with two American Indian Tribal communities and two urban locations. In total, over 12,000 women and infant pairs from South Africa and the Northern Plains will be enrolled in this study. (Elliott – PI, funded by NICHD/NIAAA/NIDCD U01-HD045935)

  • 3-D Imaging of Facial Characteristics in the South African PASS cohort: This ancillary study to the Safe Passage Study protocol is designed to improve understanding of the dysmorphic features in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome through collection of 3D facial imaging data and analysis of the 3D facial images using novel analytic techniques to test whether there are unique facial features in infancy that best discriminate alcohol exposed from control subjects. (Foroud & Hammond – PI’s; Elliott – Co-PI)
  • Maternal Grief Responses – A Pilot Study of Bereaved Mothers in the Safe Passage Study Cohort: This pilot study is working to establish a basis for the claim that parental grief is a distinct bereavement-related reaction, different in intensity and duration, but not symptomatology, from other empirically studied “griefs”; and to better understand how Lakota spirituality and culture can influence maternal grief. The overall hypothesis of the study is that the current understanding of grief responses is limited and parental grief is a distinct and unstudied variant. (Goldstein – PI; Elliott Co-PI, funded by CJ Foundation)
  • Maternal Sleep Study: This ancillary study investigates the effects of maternal sleep position on fetal physiology. This study utilizes the existing clinical and research infrastructure established by PASS in the Northern Plains to investigate the effects of maternal sleep position on fetal and maternal heart rate patterns. (Elliott – PI, NICHD U01-HD-045935 supplement)

Effects of Prenatal Environment on Brain Development: A longitudinal study in preterm infants. The project involves EEG studies in premature infants and is looking at how prenatal alcohol exposure affects brain development. The overall goal of the study is to determine early in life which exposed infants are at risk for developing cognitive defects. (Fifer/Myers – PI; Elliott – Co-PI, NICHD R37-HD032774)

CBPR Initiative in Reducing Infant Mortality in American Indian Communities: This project will work with American Indian community and healthcare workers in the design and implementation of an intervention to reduce risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other related infant deaths due to unsafe sleep environments. (Elliott – PI, NICHD, R01-HD080544)

Contact Us

Phone: (605) 312-6205
Fax: (605) 312-6301