Dr. Gerard O'Keefe

It is increasingly recognised that maternal, placental and early life health is an important determinant of future mental health. Exposure to common complications of pregnancy including prenatal stress, hypoxia, and maternal immune activation has been shown to affect the developing brain.

Research Interests

Gerard's research is focused on the increased risk for a range adverse mental health outcomes in affected individuals. The causative molecular basis of this increased risk is only beginning to emerge, and is increasingly focused on gene-environment interactions mediated by reversible molecule changes known as epigenetic changes. It is within this context that Gerard and his research programme at INFANT focuses on the following four questions:

  • What are the environmental and molecular determinants of neuronal and placental health?
  • How these are altered by common complications of pregnancy?
  • What are the implications of these alterations for brain health across the lifespan.
  • How can we translate this knowledge into new interventions to improve the outcome.

To do this, Gerard and his team will be responsible for projects that combine state-of-the-art cell biology approaches with preclinical modeling that is integrated with INFANT’s epidemiological and biobanking platforms for a translational research program in developmental biology.

Current role in Infant: Group Leader/Senior Researcher/Affiliated researcher.

Career Profile:

  • 2016-present  SFI Principal investigator
  • 2016-present  Senior Lecturer in Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC
  • 2008-16          Lecturer in Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC
  • 2004-08          Postdoctoral researcher, School of Biosciences, Cardiff Uni.
  • 2004               Ph.D, Department of Anatomy, University College Cork
  • 2000               B.Sc (hons) in Neuroscience at University College Cork

Professional Activities/Achievements:

  • Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Awardee 2016-2020.
  • Elected council member of the governing body of the Anatomical society.
  • Deputy Website, Media and Communication officer of the Anatomical society.
  • Member of Irish network for Biomarkers in Neurodegeneration (IN-BIND).
  • Section editor of Neural Regeneration Research (NRR).
UCC Profile: Dr. Gerard O'Keefe

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