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Kieran O’Donnell


  • Fellow
  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018
  • Child & Brain Development


Research Gate


How does our early experience influence vulnerability for later adverse mental health outcomes? This is the question that drives Kieran O’Donnell, a developmental psychobiologist.

His multidisciplinary research program combines psychiatric, genetic, epigenetic and epidemiological methods. His Epigenetics and Epidemiology lab seeks to better understand the biological embedding of early adversity and its association with altered child neurodevelopment. Specific areas of interest include studies on maternal perinatal mental health and child neurodevelopment, as well as epigenetic analyses of early intervention programs that seek to buffer the effects of adversity experienced early in life. The goal is to integrate relevant biological measures into studies of child neurodevelopment, to better identify and treat at-risk individuals, and thus help each child reach their full developmental potential.


  • CIFAR/NeuroDevNet Postdoctoral Fellowship

Relevant Publications

  • O'Donnell, K.J. et al. "The persisting effect of maternal mood in pregnancy on childhood psychopathology." Dev Psychopathol 26, no. 2 (2014): 393–403.
  • O'Donnell, K.J. et al. "Maternal prenatal anxiety and child brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) genotype: Effects on internalizing symptoms from 4 to 15 years of age." Dev Psychopathol 26, no. 4 Pt 2 (2014): 1255–1266.
  • O'Donnell, K.J. et al. "Maternal prenatal anxiety and downregulation of placental 11beta-HSD2." Psychoneuroendocrinology 37, no. 6 (2012): 818–26.

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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