Elizabeth Jane Costello

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of London (UK) 1981


Developmental epidemiology applies the research methods of findings of developmental science to epidemiology--the study of patterns of disease distribution in time and space. Developmental epidemiology can cover the life span, but my own work concentrates on childhood and adolescence. I study change and continuity in psychiatric disorders, in the context of change and
continuity in the risk factors for those disorders.

An important application of the work of the Developmental Epidemiology Program, of which I am Co-Director, is examining the need for, and use of, mental health services for children. This work sets the study of the mental health care system for children and adolescents within a conceptual
framework which permits use of estimate unmet needs as well as identifying appropriate areas for preventive interventions. I am carrying out a longitudinal study based on 4,500 randomly selected children and adolescents living in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. Findings from this study provide important information for federal and local policy makers, while at the same time testing ideas about the development of risk and resilience.

Copeland, WE, Hill, S, Costello, EJ, and Shanahan, L. "Cannabis Use and Disorder From Childhood to Adulthood in a Longitudinal Community Sample With American Indians." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 56.2 (February 2017): 124-132.e2. Full Text

Costello, EJ. "Early Detection and Prevention of Mental Health Problems: Developmental Epidemiology and Systems of Support." Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53 45.6 (November 18, 2016): 710-717.

Costello, EJ, Copeland, W, and Angold, A. "The Great Smoky Mountains Study: developmental epidemiology in the southeastern United States." Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology 51.5 (May 2016): 639-646. Full Text

Copeland, WE, Wolke, D, Shanahan, L, and Costello, EJ. "Adult Functional Outcomes of Common Childhood Psychiatric Problems: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study." JAMA psychiatry 72.9 (September 2015): 892-899. Full Text

Adkins, DE, Clark, SL, Copeland, WE, Kennedy, M, Conway, K, Angold, A, Maes, H, Liu, Y, Kumar, G, Erkanli, A, Patkar, AA, Silberg, J, Brown, TH, Fergusson, DM, Horwood, LJ, Eaves, L, van den Oord, EJCG, Sullivan, PF, and Costello, EJ. "Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Alcohol Consumption Across Youth and Early Adulthood." Twin research and human genetics : the official journal of the International Society for Twin Studies 18.4 (August 2015): 335-347. Full Text

Copeland, WE, Brotman, MA, and Costello, EJ. "Normative Irritability in Youth: Developmental Findings From the Great Smoky Mountains Study." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 54.8 (August 2015): 635-642. Full Text

Shanahan, L, Zucker, N, Copeland, WE, Bondy, CL, Egger, HL, and Costello, EJ. "Childhood somatic complaints predict generalized anxiety and depressive disorders during young adulthood in a community sample." Psychological medicine 45.8 (June 2015): 1721-1730. Full Text

Lereya, ST, Copeland, WE, Costello, EJ, and Wolke, D. "Adult mental health consequences of peer bullying and maltreatment in childhood: two cohorts in two countries." The lancet. Psychiatry 2.6 (June 2015): 524-531. Full Text

Erskine, HE, Moffitt, TE, Copeland, WE, Costello, EJ, Ferrari, AJ, Patton, G, Degenhardt, L, Vos, T, Whiteford, HA, and Scott, JG. "A heavy burden on young minds: the global burden of mental and substance use disorders in children and youth." Psychological medicine 45.7 (May 2015): 1551-1563. Full Text

Copeland, WE, Shanahan, L, Davis, M, Burns, BJ, Angold, A, and Costello, EJ. "Increase in untreated cases of psychiatric disorders during the transition to adulthood." Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 66.4 (April 2015): 397-403. Full Text


Costello, EJ, Egger, HL, Copeland, W, Erkanli, A, and Angold, A. "The developmental epidemiology of anxiety disorders: Phenomenology, prevalence, and comorbidity." Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents, Second edition. January 1, 2011. 56-75. Full Text

Angold, A, Carol, W, and Costello, EJ. "Puberty and depression." Gender Differences at Puberty. January 1, 2003. 137-164. Full Text

Early Substance Use in Rural American Indian and White/Anglo Youth awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Vulnerability to Drug Abuse:Pathways to Recovery awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2017

Developmental methylomics of childhood trauma and its health consequences awarded by Virginia Commonwealth University (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2017

Early Substance Use in Rural American Indian and White/Anglo Youth awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Collaborator). 2016 to 2017

Pathways From Maltreatment to Substance Abuse awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2010 to 2016

Gene-Environment Interplay, Development, and Emotional Disorders awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2008 to 2014

A developmental model of gene-environment interplay in SUDs awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2014

Prefrontal Function in Adolescent Limited vs Life Course Persistent SUD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2008 to 2014

Sex, stress, emotional disorders: uniting preclinical and epidemiologic research awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2012

Stress and Behavior in Health and Disease awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1989 to 2011