Associate professor Eric Hodges, PhD, FNP-BC, has been appointed the new director of the UNC School of Nursing Biobehavioral Lab (BBL). His program of research centers on early parent-child feeding interactions, and much of his work has involved observational studies conducted in the BBL.
Dr. Hodges’ served as a member of the BBL Advisory Committee until being named the BBL’s interim director after director Dr. Virginia Neelon retired last summer.
“My time serving as the interim director of the Biobehavioral Lab has been among the most intellectually stimulating of my career,” Dr. Hodges says. “I’m so pleased and humbled to be given the opportunity to carry on as director, which allows me to continue to make connections between researchers within the School of Nursing and in other departments on campus and beyond as well as to help chart an exciting future of clinical and translational research for all of our various constituents.”
With funding from the North Carolina TraCS Institute, Dr. Hodges is studying whether teaching American Sign Language to infants, commonly known as baby sign language, could enhance a child’s ability to indicate to their caregivers whether they are hungry or full. Improved communication could prevent parents from overfeeding their children and may reduce the possibility that the child will become obese. He is a member of the 2009 cohort of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars, was appointed to the UNC Provost’s Committee on Inclusive Excellence and Diversity, is a faculty mentor in the UNC Center for Development Science, and is a faculty associate in the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute based in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The BBL includes an observation suite with six in-wall cameras and a state-of-the-art sleep laboratory. Two staff members work in the laboratory and offer several training programs throughout the year on research procedures such as salivary hormone assays or cardiovascular stress measurement. The BBL also houses a number of instruments for monitoring of physiologic parameters such as electrical brain activity, cardiac output, oxygenation, body composition, and heart rate responses, as well as an epigenetics lab.