Aoife O'Donovan, PhD

Assistant Professor
+1 415 221-4810 ext. 4959

People who experience traumatic or enduring psychological stress are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders as well as cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Our research is focused on revealing how psychological stress drives the development of mental and physical disorders. Specifically, we aim to identify the psychological and biological factors that account for the adverse effects of psychological stress, and ultimately to drive the development of targeted interventions to reduce such negative effects of stress. To this end, we are currently focused on uncovering stress-related changes in immune system functioning and on examining how such changes impact brain function and structure.


Sleep and Cognitive Performance From Teens To Old Age: More Is Not Better.


Richards A, Inslicht SS, Metzler TJ, Mohlenhoff BS, Rao MN, O'Donovan A, Neylan TC

Current posttraumatic stress disorder and exaggerated threat sensitivity associated with elevated inflammation in the Mind Your Heart Study.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

O'Donovan A, Ahmadian AJ, Neylan TC, Pacult MA, Edmondson D, Cohen BE

Alteration of immune markers in a group of melancholic depressed patients and their response to electroconvulsive therapy.

Journal of affective disorders

Rush G, O'Donovan A, Nagle L, Conway C, McCrohan A, O'Farrelly C, Lucey JV, Malone KM

Becoming an Academic Researcher in Psychiatry: A View From the Trenches.

Academic psychiatry : the journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry

Ionescu DF, McAdams CJ, O'Donovan A, Philip NS

Metabolic risk factors and posttraumatic stress disorder: the role of sleep in young, healthy adults.

Psychosomatic medicine

Talbot LS, Rao MN, Cohen BE, Richards A, Inslicht SS, O'Donovan A, Maguen S, Metzler TJ, Neylan TC

Anxiety is associated with higher levels of global DNA methylation and altered expression of epigenetic and interleukin-6 genes.

Psychiatric genetics

Murphy TM, O'Donovan A, Mullins N, O'Farrelly C, McCann A, Malone K

Perceived life stress exposure modulates reward-related medial prefrontal cortex responses to acute stress in depression.

Journal of affective disorders

Kumar P, Slavich GM, Berghorst LH, Treadway MT, Brooks NH, Dutra SJ, Greve DN, O'Donovan A, Bleil ME, Maninger N, Pizzagalli DA

Anger is associated with increased IL-6 stress reactivity in women, but only among those low in social support.

International journal of behavioral medicine

Puterman E, Epel ES, O'Donovan A, Prather AA, Aschbacher K, Dhabhar FS

Altered inflammatory activity associated with reduced hippocampal volume and more severe posttraumatic stress symptoms in Gulf War veterans.


O'Donovan A, Chao LL, Paulson J, Samuelson KW, Shigenaga JK, Grunfeld C, Weiner MW, Neylan TC

Hyperinsulinemic response to oral glucose challenge in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder.


Rao MN, Chau A, Madden E, Inslicht S, Talbot L, Richards A, O'Donovan A, Ruoff L, Grunfeld C, Neylan TC

Elevated risk for autoimmune disorders in iraq and afghanistan veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Biological psychiatry

O'Donovan A, Cohen BE, Seal KH, Bertenthal D, Margaretten M, Nishimi K, Neylan TC

Sex differences in neurosteroid and hormonal responses to metyrapone in posttraumatic stress disorder.


Inslicht SS, Richards A, Madden E, Rao MN, O'Donovan A, Talbot LS, Rucker E, Metzler TJ, Hauger RL, Neylan TC

Oxytocin administration enhances controlled social cognition in patients with schizophrenia.


Woolley JD, Chuang B, Lam O, Lai W, O'Donovan A, Rankin KP, Mathalon DH, Vinogradov S

Inflammation and depression: unraveling the complex interplay in inflammatory bowel disease.

Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition

O'Donovan A

Suicidal ideation is associated with elevated inflammation in patients with major depressive disorder.

Depression and anxiety

O'Donovan A, Rush G, Hoatam G, Hughes BM, McCrohan A, Kelleher C, O'Farrelly C, Malone KM

Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity.


Aschbacher K, O'Donovan A, Wolkowitz OM, Dhabhar FS, Su Y, Epel E

Exaggerated neurobiological sensitivity to threat as a mechanism linking anxiety with increased risk for diseases of aging.

Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews

O'Donovan A, Slavich GM, Epel ES, Neylan TC

Educational attainment and late life telomere length in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

Adler N, Pantell MS, O'Donovan A, Blackburn E, Cawthon R, Koster A, Opresko P, Newman A, Harris TB, Epel E

Stress appraisals and cellular aging: a key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

O'Donovan A, Tomiyama AJ, Lin J, Puterman E, Adler NE, Kemeny M, Wolkowitz OM, Blackburn EH, Epel ES

Does cellular aging relate to patterns of allostasis? An examination of basal and stress reactive HPA axis activity and telomere length.

Physiology & behavior

Tomiyama AJ, O'Donovan A, Lin J, Puterman E, Lazaro A, Chan J, Dhabhar FS, Wolkowitz O, Kirschbaum C, Blackburn E, Epel E

Shorter leukocyte telomere length in midlife women with poor sleep quality.

Journal of aging research

Prather AA, Puterman E, Lin J, O'Donovan A, Krauss J, Tomiyama AJ, Epel ES, Blackburn EH

Physical activity moderates effects of stressor-induced rumination on cortisol reactivity.

Psychosomatic medicine

Puterman E, O'Donovan A, Adler NE, Tomiyama AJ, Kemeny M, Wolkowitz OM, Epel E

Cumulative inflammatory load is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.

PloS one

O'Donovan A, Pantell MS, Puterman E, Dhabhar FS, Blackburn EH, Yaffe K, Cawthon RM, Opresko PL, Hsueh WC, Satterfield S, Newman AB, Ayonayon HN, Rubin SM, Harris TB, Epel ES

Childhood trauma associated with short leukocyte telomere length in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Biological psychiatry

O'Donovan A, Epel E, Lin J, Wolkowitz O, Cohen B, Maguen S, Metzler T, Lenoci M, Blackburn E, Neylan TC

Transcriptional control of monocyte gene expression in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Disease markers

O'Donovan A, Sun B, Cole S, Rempel H, Lenoci M, Pulliam L, Neylan T

Suppressed monocyte gene expression profile in men versus women with PTSD.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

Neylan TC, Sun B, Rempel H, Ross J, Lenoci M, O'Donovan A, Pulliam L

The power of exercise: buffering the effect of chronic stress on telomere length.

PloS one

Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn E, O'Donovan A, Adler N, Epel E

Clinical anxiety, cortisol and interleukin-6: evidence for specificity in emotion-biology relationships.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

O'Donovan A, Hughes BM, Slavich GM, Lynch L, Cronin MT, O'Farrelly C, Malone KM

Black sheep get the blues: a psychobiological model of social rejection and depression.

Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews

Slavich GM, O'Donovan A, Epel ES, Kemeny ME

Pessimism correlates with leukocyte telomere shortness and elevated interleukin-6 in post-menopausal women.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

O'Donovan A, Lin J, Tillie J, Tillie JM, Dhabhar FS, Wolkowitz OM, Wolkowitz O, Blackburn EH, Blackburn E, Epel ES, Epel E

Quality of life predicts outcome in a heart failure disease management program.

International journal of cardiology

O'Loughlin C, Murphy NF, Conlon C, O'Donovan A, Ledwidge M, McDonald K

Factors that moderate the effects of social support on cardiovascular reactivity to stress

Int J Psychol. & Psychol. Therapy

O'Donovan, A.
Hughes, B.M.

Social support and loneliness in college students: effects on pulse pressure reactivity to acute stress.

International journal of adolescent medicine and health

O'Donovan A, Hughes B

Your best interests at heart?

The Psychologist

O'Donovan, A.
Hughes, B.M.

Citation Analysis of Skinner's Verbal Behavior: 1984-2004.

The Behavior analyst / MABA

Dymond S, O'Hora D, Whelan R, O'Donovan A