Dr Kieran O’Donnell

Dr Kieran O’Donnell, PhD
  • Adjunct Professor in Epigenetics and Epidemiology, Dep. of Psychiatry, McGill University
  • Researcher, Douglas Mental Health University Institute
  • Azrieli Global Scholar in Child & Brain Development

Click the images to hear Dr O’Donnell discuss his research.

Area of Research

Dr O’Donnell is a leading expert in perinatal influences on early-childhood development, and the biological embedding of early adversity. His work examines how the early environment shapes child development. This multidisciplinary work combines genetic, epigenetic and epidemiological approaches to identify those at-risk for adverse mental health outcomes. He also seeks to better understand the molecular mechanisms by which positive and nurturing environments mediate their positive effects on child neurodevelopment.

In 2018, Dr O’Donnell initiated the first of what has become an annual national symposium on Maternal Mental Health Matters in Montreal.  The second annual national symposium on Maternal Mental Health Matters focuses on prevention and treatment. 

 Publications & Impact Profile  

“There is clear evidence that the mother’s stress, anxiety, or depression during pregnancy can alter the development of her fetus and her child, with an increased risk for later psychopathology.”

Prenatal maternal stress, fetal programming, and mechanisms underlying later psychopathology—A global perspective.  Developmental Origins of Psychopathology: Mechanisms, Processes, and Pathways Linking the Prenatal Environment to Postnatal Outcomes, August 2018

“The association between early childhood adversity and later risk of mental disorders is well established. Chemically stable, epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation, have emerged as putative mechanisms for the enduring effects of the early social environment on neural development and function.”

Epigenetics and Early Life Adversity: Current Evidence and Considerations for Epigenetic Studies in the Context of Child Maltreatment, The Biology of Early Life Stress, 2018

Contact: Douglas Mental Health University Institute Douglas Mental Health University Institute  | 6875, boulevard LaSalle  6875, boulevard LaSalle, Montréal, QC H4H 1R3, Canada  | Tel : +1 514 761 6131 Ext. 4341 | E-mail: kieran.odonnell@mcgill.ca

Interviews and speaking engagements for Ludmer Centre researchers can be organised through the Ludmer Centre’s Administrative Director at info@LudmerCentre.ca or +1-514-265-3408.