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The UW School of Nursing has a national and international reputation for excellence. An unusually fertile environment for nursing research guides and shapes its baccalaureate and graduate educational programs. It also builds practice that emphasizes leadership skills for the health care needs of a multicultural world.


Box 357260
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: 206-543-8736

Susan J. Spieker, PhD
Director, Center on Infant Mental Health & Development
Family and Child Nursing
Box 357920
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-7262

Email Address:


I am a professor in the department of Family and Child Nursing at the University of Washington and director of the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health & Development. My research focuses on the role of parent-infant relationships in children’s social emotional development and learning. My colleagues and I develop and test prevention and intervention programs related to infant and early childhood mental health. I recently completed a clinical trial R01: Promoting Infant Mental Health in Foster Care, funded by NIH/NIMH. Current projects include collaborations with Monica Oxford on a clinical trial R01: Training Social Work Providers: Intervention for Infants and Toddlers Exposed to Maltreatment; Dmitri Christakis, MD, on a clinical trial R01, Promoting Optimal Parenting; and Karen Thomas, PhD, on a descriptive R21, Contribution of Circadian Rhythm and Maternal Entrainment to Infant; all funded by NIH/NICHD.


I teach two courses in a Barnard Center program, which offers an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in infant mental health.

Practice, Service, Community Involvement

I am currently President of the Washington Association for Infant Mental Health (WA-AIMH). WA-AIMH is a chapter of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH). WA-AIMH is a vital community of professionals coming together from diverse settings on behalf of all of Washington’s youngest children and those who care for them. It promotes healthy development and nurturing relationships for infants and young children, with a particular focus on professional development and support for the interdisciplinary workforce that serves young families.

Current Publications

Oxford, M.L., Fleming, C.B., Nelson, E.M., Kelly, J.F., & Spieker, S. J. (in press). Randomized trial of Promoting First Relationships: Effects on maltreated toddlers' separation distress and sleep regulation after reunification. Children and Youth Services Review.

Nelson, E. M. & Spieker, S. J. (2013). Intervention effects on morning and stimulated cortisol among toddlers in foster care. Infant Mental Health Journal. Advance online publication. PMCID in process

Hogan, A. E., Dillon, C. O., Fernandes, S. Spieker, S. Zeanah, P.D. (2012). Creating and sustaining an interdisciplinary infant mental health work force. Zero to Three, 33 (2) 35-42.

Spieker, S. J., Oxford, M. L., Kelly, J. F., Nelson, E. M., & Fleming, C. B. (2012). Promoting First Relationships: Randomized Trial of a Relationship-Based Intervention for Toddlers in Child Welfare. Child Maltreatment. 17(4), 271-286. PMCID: PMC3552521

Grote, H.K., Spieker, S.J., Lohr, M.J., Geibel, S. L., Swartz, H.A. Frank, E. Houck, P.R., Katon, W. (2012). Impact of childhood trauma on the outcomes of a perinatal depression trial. Depression and Anxiety. doi: 10.1002/da.21929.PMID: 22447637.

Current Research Projects

2012-2014: Contribution of circadian rhythm and maternal entrainment to Infant regulation, (Karen Thomas, P.I.), National Institute for Child Health and Development, $150,000.

2012-2017: Promoting optimal parenting, (Dimitri Christakis, P.I.), National Institute for Child Health and Development, $428,793

2010-2015: Co-Principal Investigator, Training social work providers: an Intervention for Maltreating families of infants and toddlers, (Monica Oxford, Principal Investigator), National Institute for Child Health and Development, $2,253,000

2009-present: Co-Principal Investigator, Educare program support and evaluation project, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $213,000

2006-2012: Principal Investigator, Promoting infant mental health in foster care, National Institute of Mental Health, $3,200,000

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