Go Back

Photo of Kieran O’Donnell

Kieran O’Donnell Developmental Psychobiologist

How does our early experience influence vulnerability for later adverse mental health outcomes? This is the question that drives Kieran O’Donnell’s multidisciplinary research program, which combines 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, which seek to buffer the effects adversity experienced early in life. The goal is integrate relevant biological measures into studies of the 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

K.J. O'Donnellet al., "The persisting effect of maternal mood in pregnancy on childhood psychopathology," Dev Psychopathol, 26(2), 393-403, 2014.

K.J. O'Donnellet 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(4 Pt 2), 1255-1266, 2014

K.J. O'Donnellet al., "Maternal prenatal anxiety and downregulation of placental 11beta-HSD2," Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(6), 818-826, 2012

M.J. Meaney and K.J. O’Donnell, "Epigenetics and the developmental origins of vulnerability for mental disorders," Rutter Textbook of Child Psychiatry 6th Ed., Leckman J, Thapar A, Pine D, Scott S (Eds.), 2015



CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Child & Brain Development


McGill UniversityDepartment of Psychiatry


PhD (Clinical Medicine) Imperial College London

MSc (Neuroscience) Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London

BSc (Psychology) University of Westminster



Ideas Related to Kieran O’Donnell

Child & Brain Development

Nurse home visits may leave genetic marks on children

In the 1970s, a pediatrician developed a program in New York with an ambitious goal: to help children of teenage...