Matteo Giletta - Outside-In

Description of the PI

matteogiletta.jpgMatteo Giletta (1982, Italy) received a joint PhD in social sciences and developmental psychology from the Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and the University of Turin (Italy) in 2012. After his PhD, he obtained a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), in the lab of Prof. Mitch Prinstein, and from 2014 to 2020 he was assistant professor at Tilburg University (Netherlands). In 2020 he started as associate professor at Ghent University, in the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology. His broader research interests pertain to the study of peer relations during adolescence, with specific attention to the biological processes (e.g., inflammation) that may help to understand the interplays between peer experiences and youth mental and physical health. In his work, he utilizes short- and long-term longitudinal designs and he applies a variety of methodological and analytic approaches to assess and analyze peer relations both at the dyadic and social network level. In 2015, he obtained a NWO VENI grant to study the effects of peer experiences on adolescent immune system functioning and he now holds an ERC Starting Grant aimed at identifying the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying the negative consequences of bullying victimization. Because of his innovative work and his contribution to the field of psychological science, in 2017 he was awarded the APS Rising Star Award, a research recognition for outstanding early career scientists.

Description of the project

Being bullied is a major stressor for many adolescents and it is recognized as a public health concern worldwide. Adolescents who are exposed to bullying are at increased risk for mental and physical health problems, which could even perpetuate into adulthood. Unfortunately, current understanding of how bullying can pose such deleterious effects remain poor, thus limiting our ability to inform prevention and intervention efforts. This ERC project aims to address this fundamental gap by examining (a) how exposure to bullying may alter psychological (e.g., emotional) and biological (e.g., HPA-axis) processes among adolescents in real-time in their real-life (b) the extent to which bullying influences gene expression processes resulting in a gene expression profile characterized by enhanced pro-inflammatory activity, that increases risk for health problems. To address these questions a variety of methodologies will be utilized, including a longitudinal measurement burst design with repeated assessments of psychophysiological functioning in situ, transcriptional profiling and a longitudinal discordant monozygotic (MZ) twin design. Together, this research has the potential to offer unique insights about short- and long-term interplay between psychological, physiological and molecular processes through which bullying may get into the mind and under the skin.