Molly Davis PhD

Research Scientist

Molly Davis is a research scientist at PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and a clinical psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at CHOP. Broadly, she is interested in both (1) factors that contribute to the development of internalizing symptoms for children and adolescents and (2) ways to optimize risk identification and prevention for youth internalizing symptoms and related behavioral health concerns in non-specialty settings (e.g., pediatric primary care).

Throughout graduate school, Dr. Davis developed expertise in developmental psychopathology research, focusing on identifying individual (e.g., child temperament, parenting stress), dyadic (e.g., parent-child behavioral and physiological synchrony), and contextual (e.g., exposure to cumulative family risk) predictors of young children’s emotional and behavioral functioning. She has been committed to identifying both risk and protective factors pertinent to children’s development of internalizing symptoms. Along these lines, Dr. Davis has studied mediators and moderators (e.g., children’s physiological regulation capacities across emotionally-laden situations, parents’ sharing of positive emotions) of the intergenerational transmission of risk for internalizing symptoms from parents to children. Dr. Davis has been especially interested in understanding factors that are implicated in children’s early positive affect (PA) development and, in turn, identifying the ways that PA relates to youth psychosocial adjustment. This interest pairs well with her focus on internalizing symptoms since low PA has long been considered a cardinal feature of depression. In an effort to augment existing evidence-based practices for childhood anxiety treatment, Dr. Davis served as a research assistant and study therapist on a randomized controlled trial comparing two versions of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for school-age children.

Dr. Davis continues to be passionate about questions related to risk and protective factors for childhood internalizing symptoms and her clinical work, particularly in pediatric primary care, galvanized a deep interest in finding ways to answer those questions in real-world settings in order to maximize impact. Since her clinical internship at CHOP, Dr. Davis has been working with Dr. Jami Young to understand depression screening patterns and clinician follow-up actions for adolescents at-risk for depression and suicidality, in pediatric primary care practices. Dr. Davis is pursuing a number of projects to narrow the research-to-practice gap to benefit underserved youth and families, with a specific focus on mitigating depression and suicide risk via prevention in community settings (i.e., schools and primary care). Dr. Davis recently collaborated with Penn and CHOP researchers on an National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) administrative supplement that identified common and unique barriers and facilitators to suicide prevention practices in primary care and specialty mental health settings. Dr. Davis currently works with Dr. Young and her research team on several projects, including the delivery of a depression prevention program for adolescents (Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training; IPT-AST) via telehealth in schools.

Dr. Davis received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia (UGA). At UGA, she also earned a Quantitative Methods in Family Science Certificate, which provided her with training in advanced statistics. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship on the integrated behavioral health track at CHOP.