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Dr. Sackett's primary research focus has a goal of understanding how parental characteristics and other intergenerational influences, prenatal and perinatal factors, and postnatal experience interact in affecting development. Aims include identifying primate models of reproductive and developmental failure and studying developmental consequences of experimental treatments designed as models of human diseases or therapeutic agents for human diseases. The major aspects of Sackett's research are study of basic developmental mechanisms and investigation of breeding and husbandry of captive primates. His 20-plus-year study of development of low birth weight (LBW) pigtail macaque infants has revealed lower levels of motor activity and more fearful and withdrawn behaviors than in normal birth weight infants.
Sackett's current research projects emphasize study in four areas: (1) acute and chronic effects of psychosocial stress on pregnancy and fetal and postnatal development of offspring; (2) postnatal effects of intrauterine growth retardation with and without catch-up in growth by birth; (3) growth and behavioral development in infant and juvenile monkeys exposed to viruses, drugs, and vaccines; and (4) genetics of reproductive problems such as prematurity, low birthweight, and fetal loss. Specific projects address the effects of neuroleptic drugs and childhood vaccines on the development of young monkeys, whether assisted reproductive technologies do or do not produce deviant growth and behavioral development, and the phenotypic similarity of identical twins produced by embryo-splitting.
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