Jennie  Noll 

photo of Jennie Noll

Professor of Human Development and Family Studies; and Director, Network on Child Protection and Wellbeing

Contact Information

209 Health and Human Development Building
Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802


Research Interests

I am a Professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Children, the first national center for child maltreatment research. I received my PhD in Developmental Psychology and Statistical Methodology from the University of Southern California in 1996. I then spent 8 years in Washington, DC at the National Institutes of Health before going to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where I spent 10 years as a Professor of Pediatrics. My primary research foci are (1) the bio-psycho-social consequences of child maltreatment, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect, (2) pathways to teen pregnancy and high-risk sexual behaviors for abused and neglected youth, (3) the long-term adverse health outcomes for victims of child sexual abuse, including HPA dysregulation, cognitive deficits, various cancers, immunodeficiencies, healthcare utilization, diabetes and obesity, (4) midlife reversibility of neurocognitive deficits in stress-exposed populations, (5) the propensity for abused and neglected teens to engage in high-risk internet and social media behaviors, and (6) policies and programs for the prevention of child maltreatment.

My graduate and undergraduate students play an active role in my current projects, which are described below:

Center for Healthy Children

I recently had the incredible honor of being awarded the highly-competitive P50 grant to establish an academic institution to function as a “Capstone” for child maltreatment research. The grant was awarded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with matching funds from the Pennsylvania State University. With these resources, our network of interdisciplinary faculty devoted to child maltreatment research have established the Center for Health Children, of which I am the director. The purpose of this center is to become the nation’s epicenter for cutting-edge, transparent research that aims to identify health and developmental solutions for maltreatment survivors, mobilize public investment in child maltreatment prevention and treatment, accelerate science to practice, train the next generation of scientists and advocates, and spark dynamic system-wide change.

A major project at the Center with which prospective students can be involved is the Child Health Study, led by Christine Helm, Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State. We are currently recruiting a new cohort of 1,200 children aged 8-13 from around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to launch a multi-year observational study focused on eradicating health disparities for children who have been involved in the child welfare system. This study includes health screenings, monitoring and education about emotional and behavioral well-being as well as physical health and well-being. Graduate and undergraduate students can play key roles in the operation of this study and gain hands-on experience working with children and families who have experienced child maltreatment.

For more information on the Center for Healthy Children and other research projects that are part of the Center, see the following links:

Penn State News

USA Today

Dr. Kent Hymel’s abusive head trauma study

Female Growth and Development Study (FGDS)
For most of the past 20 years I have had the distinct fortune to work directly with Frank Putnam, MD and Penelope Trickett, PhD on their ground-breaking longitudinal study of the long-term sequelae of sexual abuse and have been a PI for the past 15 years. Recently, we received an R01 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to continue to assess this cohort (and their offspring) for the 7th and 8th waves which will constitute the 27 and 30 year follow-ups of the sample that was initially assessed at mean age 10. The three main aims of this grant will be the assessment of physical health outcomes, intergenerational transmission of the effects of sexual abuse, and the identification of mechanisms of resilience. We also received an R01 from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to study daily stress-coping and premature cognitive aging in individuals who experienced early-life stress.

Female Adolescent Development Study (FADS)

I have completed an R01 from NICHD on longitudinal study of 514 nulliparous adolescent females (65% abused or neglected) followed prospectively through adolescence starting at age 14 and assessed annually through age 19. This study was aimed at articulating the psychosexual sequelae of childhood abuse and the mechanisms involved in HIV-risk behaviors and teen pregnancy/motherhood. In January 2013 our first longitudinal paper was published in Pediatrics presenting unprecedented prospective data showing that maltreated females were five times more likely to experience teenage childbirth than the national average. Further analyses are underway to elucidate pre-pregnancy predictors and developmental mechanisms of the timing and occurrence of teen pregnancy/motherhood for maltreated females.

Techno Teens
I am also the PI on an R01 from NICHD where we are objectively tracking the internet and social media behaviors of 450 sexually abused and comparison teens. This grant marks a relatively new area of research, not just for myself but within the field of child maltreatment and developmental psychopathology, because it has a particular focus on internet-initiated victimization (including sexual exploitation, pornography exposure, cyber bullying, “slut-shaming” and offline encounters) and the impact of electronic media and mobile device usage on teen development in general. This will also be the first study to objectively monitor internet activity and social media behaviors—and essential next step in internet safety research, a field that has thus far solely relied on adolescent self-reports. To do this, I have partnered with talented bioinformatics faculty members to develop software and social networking apps that record and quantify adolescents’ “internet and social media footprints” and which are installed on specially engineered laptops and mobile devices that participants will use during the course of the 5 year study.

Aside from my NIH research activities, I have recently been concerned with impacting how the public sector, healthcare providers, insurance companies and policy makers invest in child abuse treatment and prevention. We now know that approximately 70% of families in the child welfare system are Medicaid-eligible. In acknowledgement that abuse victims and their families are high healthcare utilizers, it is becoming indisputable that the healthcare burden attributable to these high utilizers will have an unsustainable impact of state-run Medicaid programs. I have recently partnered with public health economists and bioinformatricians to begin to answer the call for scientific leverage that will impact policy regarding a mandate for the treatment of childhood maltreatment as a primary prevention strategy.

I have also been the director of the Penn State’s Child Maltreatment Solutions Network. I view the Network as an unprecedented opportunity to identify, facilitate and coordinate multidisciplinary child maltreatment research that will significantly advance knowledge and move the field forward in ways that will maximize the health and well-being of victims and their families. The Network provides resources and infrastructure that will incentivize and aid talented basic and translational research faculty to conduct impactful research on the causes, treatments, sequelae and impact of child abuse and neglect. Network strategic efforts address important gaps in the field and will connect the dots between child maltreatment and a myriad of deleterious outcomes. The ultimate goal is to orient providers and policy makers toward recognizing the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment as worthy of significant public health investment.

NIH Grants (PI Status only)

  • 2017-2021 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD P50HD551411. Penn State’s Transitional Center for Child Maltreatment Studies-TCCMS.
  • 2016 – 2017 Principal Investigator (Noll) Social Science Research Institute/Youth and Family Consortium Level 1 Award. Towards a Universal Prevention Program for Child Sexual Abuse.
  • 2014-2016 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NIA R01 AG048791-02. Daily Stress Coping and Premature Cognitive Aging in Child Abuse Victims at Midfi
  • 2013-2018 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD R01 HD072468. Health & wellbeing of sexually abused females & offspring: 27 and 30 yr. follow up.
  • 2012-2017 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD R01 HD073130. Abused and non-abused females’ high-risk online behaviors: Impact on development.
  • 2007-2012 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD R01HD052533. A Prospective Investigation of the Mechanisms Involved in Teen Pregnancy.
  • 2010-2012 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD R03HD060604. 20-year intergenerational longitudinal follow-up of females abused as children.
  • 2004-2006 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD R03HD045346. Cortisol Activity and Sexual Abuse: Effects across development.
  • 2002-2007 Principal Investigator (Noll) NIH/NICHD K01HD41402. Offspring of Maltreated Mothers: Prenatal and Infant Health.

Additional Center Affiliation

Penn State’s Center for Healthy Children
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network


1990, B.A., Psychology, University of Southern California
1995, Ph.D., Developmental Psychology/Statistical Methodology, University of Southern California

Professional Experience

April 2017-present Founder and Director of Center for Healthy Children, The Pennsylvania State University

Aug 2013-present -- Professor (with Tenure) of Human Development and Family Studies, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University

Aug 2013-present -- Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati

Aug 2011-2013 -- Professor (with Tenure) of Pediatrics, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati

Aug 2008-2013 -- Director of Research, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical, Psychology; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati

Aug 2007-2013 -- Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (Joint Appointment), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati

Aug 2006-2011 -- Associate Professor (with Tenure) of Pediatrics, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati

Sept 2003-Aug 2006 -- Research Associate Professor of Psychology, The Catholic University of America, Department of Psychology, Washington, D.C.

Sept 1998-Aug 2003 -- Research Assistant Professor of Social Work, University of Southern California School of Social Work, Los Angeles, CA

Sept 1995-Aug 1998 -- Research Fellow, Behavioral Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD

Selected Publications

Noll, JG, Trickett, PK, Long, JD, Negriff, S, Susman, EJ, Shalev, I, Li, JC, Putnam, FW. Childhood Sexual Abuse and Early Timing of Puberty. Journal of Adolescent Health 2017; 60(1), 65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.09.008

Shalev, I, Heim, CM, Noll, JG. Child Maltreatment as a Root Cause of Mortality Disparities. JAMA Psychiatry, 2016; 73(9):897-898. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1748.

Shenk, CE, Noll, JG, Peugh, JL, Griffin, AM, & Bensman, HE. Contamination in the prospective study of child maltreatment and female adolescent health. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2016; 41(1), 37-45. PMID: 25797944. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsv017.

Zeller MH, Noll JG, Sarwer DB, et al. Child Maltreatment and the Adolescent Patient With Severe Obesity: Implications for Clinical Care. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2015; 40(7):640-8. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsv011.

Shenk CE, Noll JG, Peugh JL, Griffin AM, Bensman HE. Contamination in the Prospective Study of Child Maltreatment and Female Adolescent Health. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2015. pii: jsv017. [Epub ahead of print].

Zeller MH, Noll JG, Sarwer DB, et al. Child Maltreatment and the Adolescent Patient With Severe Obesity: Implications for Clinical Care. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2015; 40(7):640-8. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsv011.

Noll JG, Shenk CE. Teen Birth Rates in Sexually Abused and Neglected Females. Pediatrics 2013. 131: e1174-e1180.

Noll, JG, Shenk, CE, Barnes, JE, Haralson, KJ. Association of Maltreatment with High Risk Internet Behaviors and Offline Encounters. Pediatrics 2013; 131(2) e510-e517.

Noll, JG & Grych, J. Read-React-Respond: an interactive model for understanding sexual revictimization. Journal of Violence and Trauma 2011; 1(3): 202-215.

Noll, JG, Haralson, KJ, Butler, EM & Shenk, CE. Child maltreatment, psychological dysregulation and risky sexual behaviors in female adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2011; 36(7):743-752.

Center Affiliations

  • Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center

Strategic Themes

  • Human Development
  • Domains of Health and Behavior