Abel, Regina, PhD

Clinical Interests

Effects of therapy dogs on behavior of children during occupational therapy sessions

Research Interests

Human-animal Interaction, animal assisted therapy, child development and education, particularly children with chronic conditions

Teaching Roles

Dr. Abel teaches the Elements of Research Design and Use of Data course. The purpose of the course is to prepare future OTs to be better consumers of research information. She also mentors students in both the Animal Assisted Therapy and the Child Health and Education Laboratories, including research design and statistical analysis.


BS in psychology, Missouri State University
PhD in developmental psychology, Indiana University


Dr. Abel is trained in development and in animal behavior, and now combines those interests in her research. She examines the effects of animal assisted therapy and other human-animal interactions on behavior of adults as well as children. Of particular interest are the effects of dog training programs on incarcerated women and men. Dr. Abel is also working with OT Clinical Services to bring certified therapy dogs into pediatric OT sessions. In addition to quantifying behavior of the child, students quantify behavior of the therapist, the dog and the dog handler to better understand the human-animal interaction. Dr. Abel collaborates with multiple community partners to improve social and emotional learning in children who face health or environmental disparities by employing the Mutt-i-grees Program developed by Yale School of the 21st Century and North Shore Animal League.

Dr. Abel continues to work with Dr. Allison King to improve educational and functional outcomes for children with sickle cell disease or with brain tumors. It was through her work with Dr. King that she became aware of the impact of health and educational disparities during development.

Selected Publications

King, A.A., McKinstry, R.C., Wu, J., Eapen, M., Abel, R., Varughese, T., Kamani, N., & Shenoy, S. Functional and radiologic assessment of the brain after reduced-intensity unrelated donor transplantation for severe sickle cell disease: Blood and marrow transplant clinical trials Network study 0601. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2019.01.008.

Calhoun, C.C., Abel, R., Pham, Hai Ahn, Thompson, S., & King, A.A. Implementation of an educational intervention to optimize self-management and transition readiness in young adults with sickle cell disease. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 2019, e27722.

Schuele, K., Bennett, A., Varughese, T., Abel, R., Reichenbacher, C., Green,, K., & King, A. Information needs regarding cognitive late effects of caregivers of central nervous system tumor survivors. Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 2018, Nov 12 doi: 10.1177/1539449218809943.

Hauff, M., Abel, R, Hersh, J., Isenberg, J., Spoljaric, D., Hayashi, R., & King A.A. Adolescent survivors’ information needs for transitions to postsecondary education and employment. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 2018, doi:10.1002/pbc.27547.

Housten, A.J., Abel, R.A., Lindsey, T., & King, A.A. Feasibility of a community-based sickle cell trait testing and counseling program. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 2016, 9(3): 1.

Abel, R.A., Cho, E., Chadwick-Mansker, K.R., D’Souza, N., Housten, A.J., & King, A.A. Transition needs of adolescents with sickle cell disease. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2015, 69(2): 6902350030p1-5.

Housten, A.J., Abel, R.A., Dadekian, J., Schwieterman, K., Jason, D., & King, A.A. Youth with sickle cell disease: genetic and sexual health education needs. American Journal of Health Behavior, 2015, 39(6): 856-65. PubMed: 26450553.

Drazen, C.H., Abel, R., Gabir, M., Farmer, G., & King, A.A. Prevalence of developmental delay and contributing factors among children with sickle cell disease. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 2015, 63(3): 504-510. PubMed: 26575319.

Hoyt Drazen, C., Abel, R., Lindsey, T., & King, A.A. Development and feasibility of a home-based education model for families of children with sickle cell disease. BMC Public Health, 2014, 14(1): 116. PubMed: 24499305.

Gonzales, F.F., Abel, R., Almli, C.R., Mu.,D., Wendland, M., &Ferriero, D.M. Erythropoietin sustains cognitive function and brain volume after neonatal stroke. Developmental Neuroscience, 2009, 31 (5); 403-411


Ronca, A.E., Abel, R.A, & Alberts, J.A. Maternal anesthesia via isoflurane or ether differentially affects pre-and postnatal behavior in rat offspring. Developmental Psychobiology, 2007, 49: 675-684.

Ronca, A.E., Abel, R.A., Renner, K.J., Ronan, P.J., & Alberts, J.A. Effects of labor contractions on catecholamine release and breathing frequency in newborn rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 2006, 120(6): 1308-1314.

Zhao, C., Avilés, C,. Abel, R.A., Almli, C.R., McQuillen, P., & Pleasure, S.J. Hippocampal and visuospatial learning defects in mice with a deletion of frizzled 9, a gene in the Williams syndrome deletion interval. Development, 2005, 132(12): 2917-27.

Burke, K.A., Schroeder, D.M., Abel, R.A., Richardson, S.C., Bigsby, R.M., & Nephew, K.P. Immunohistochemical detection of estrogen receptor alpha in male rat spinal cord during development. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 2000, 61: 329-337.

Abel, R.A., Ronca, A.E., & Alberts, J.R. Perinatal stimulation facilitates suckling onset in rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 1998, 32(2): 91-99.

Ronca, A.E., Abel, R.A., & Alberts, J.R. Perinatal stimulation and adaptation of the neonate. Acta Paediatrica, 1996, Supplement 415: 8-15.


2002-2005: National Research Service Award Research Training Grant, Postdoctoral Fellow
1999: Sandra Weiner Student Travel Award, International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
1996-1997: Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, Indiana University, Predoctoral Fellow
1993-1996: National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow

Abel, Regina

Abel, Regina, PhD

Instructor in Occupational Therapy and Medicine

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Phone: (314) 286-1649
Fax: (314) 286-1601


Animal Assisted Therapy

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