Aoife O'Donovan, MPsychSc, PhD

Aoife O\"Donovan, PhD
PhD, University College, Dublin, Ireland
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF

Phone: (415) 221-4810 (ext.4959)
Email: [email protected]

UCSF Profile

UCSF Department of Psychiatry

THRIVE (Trauma and Health Research on Immunity, Vitality and Emotions) Lab

Research interests:

My research is focused on uncovering the mechanisms by which traumatic psychological stress increases risk for mental and physical health problems. I have more than ten years of training and experience in health psychology, with a particular emphasis on psychoneuroimmunology. As a Visiting Scholar from Ireland as both a pre- and post-doctoral trainee, I benefited greatly from the seminars available through the NIMH-funded “UCSF Psychology, Health and Medicine” program led by Drs. Nancy Adler and Margaret Kemeny. I am highly enthusiastic about the current proposal “Psychology and Medicine: An Integrative Research Approach” and its potential to provide outstanding training to exceptional trainees. UCSF is a highly collaborative university where interdisciplinary research is very much standard. Thus, in addition to the excellent training that trainees can receive from within their home department at UCSF, there is great potential for collaboration and mentorship across campus. For example, I collaborate with immunologists, endocrinologists, internists, cardiologists, neurologists, and epidemiologists. I believe that UCSF is truly an outstanding environment for training and research and this T32 proposal promises to exploit all that is great about this institution.

Professional honors and awards:

  • Researcher, National Health and Safety Authority, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2004 Trainee Health Psychologist, St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin, Ireland 2004 Research Assistant, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England
  • 2002-2007 Occasional Guest Lecturer at Dublin City University and University College Dublin 2004-2007 Craig Dobbin Newman Scholar, Department of Psychiatry, University College Dublin 2007-2009 Fulbright and Rotary International Visiting Scholar, Health Psychology Program, UCSF
  • 2009-2010 Postdoctoral Scholar, Health Psychology, UCSF
  • 2010-2013 Branco Weiss Fellow, UCSF & San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) 2013-Present Assistant Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF & SFVAMC
  • 1998 College Scholar Award, University College Cork
  • 2002-2004 Ranked first in MPsychSc class at the National University of Ireland, Galway
  • 2005 Health Research Board, Ireland award to attend British Council Scientific Writing Workshop 2004-2007 Craig Dobbin Newman Scholarship in Mental Health Research at University College Dublin 2007 Psychological Society of Ireland Postgraduate Student of the Year (1st place)
  • 2007-2008 Fulbright Scholarship to University of California, San Francisco
  • 2007-2009 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to University of California, San Francisco
  • 2008 Health Research Board, Ireland award to attend National Cancer Institute Summer Curriculum 2008, ‘10, ‘11 Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society Trainee Award
  • 2008 American Psychosomatic Society Young Scholar Award
  • 2008 American Association of University Women International Fellowship (Offered) 2011 RAND Summer Institute Travel Award
  • 2011 Wisconsin Symposium on Emotion Travel Award
  • 2012 Neal E. Miller New Investigator Award for Early Career Contributions to Behavioral Medicine 2012 National Institutes of Health Mobile Health Summer Institute Travel Award
  • 2013 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel Award 2010-2017 Society in Science: The Branco Weiss Fellowship
  • 2014-2016 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry Trainee Award

Selected publications:

  1. O’Donovan, A., Lin, J., Tillie, J., Dhabhar, F., Wolkowitz, O., Blackburn, E., Epel, E. (2009). Pessimism correlates with leukocyte telomere shortness and elevated interleukin-6 in post-menopausal women. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 23(4), 446-449. PMCID: PMC2719778
  2. O’Donovan, A., Epel, E.S., Lin, J., Wolkowitz, O., Cohen, B.E., Maguen, S., Metzler, T., Lenoci, M.A., Blackburn, E.H., & Neylan, T.C. (2011) Childhood trauma is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in young to middle-aged adults with post-traumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 70(5), 465-471. PMCID: PMC3152637
  3. O’Donovan, A., Pantell, M., Puterman, E., Dhabhar, F.S., Blackburn, E.H., Yaffe, K., Cawthon, R.M., Opresko, P.L., Hsueh, W.C., Satterfield, S., Newman, A.B., Ayonayon, H.N., Rubin, S.M., Harris, T.B., & Epel, E.S. for the Health Aging and Body Composition Study (2011). Cumulative inflammatory load is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. PLoS ONE, 6(5), e19687. PMCID: PMC3094351
  4. O'Donovan, A., Chao, L., Paulson, J., Samuelson, K., Shigenaga, J., Grunfeld, C., Weiner, M., Neylan,T. (2014). Altered inflammatory activity associated with reduced hippocampal volume and more severe posttraumatic stress symptoms in Gulf War veterans. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 51, 557-566. PMCID: PMC4374733
  5. O’Donovan, A., Neylan, T.C., Metzler, T., Whooley, M., & Cohen, B.E. (2012). Lifetime exposure to traumatic psychological stress and inflammation in The Heart and Soul Study. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity, 26(4), 642-649. PMCID: PMC3322304
  6. Lin, J. E., Neylan, T. C., Epel, E., & O’Donovan, A. (2016). Associations of childhood adversity and adulthood trauma with C-reactive protein: A cross-sectional population-based study. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 53, 105-112. PMCID in progress.
  7. O’Donovan, A., Rush, G., Hughes, B.M., Hoatam, G., McCrohan, A.M., Kelliher, C., & Malone, K.M. (2013). Suicidal ideation is associated with elevated inflammation in patients with major depressive disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 30(4):307-14.
  8. O'Donovan, A., Cohen, B.E., Seal, K.H., Bertenthal, D., Margaretten, M., Nishimi, K., Neylan, T.C. (2015). Elevated risk for autoimmune disorders in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 77(4):365-74. PMCID: PMC4277929
  9. Neylan, T.C., Sun, B., Rempel, H., Ross, J., Lenoci, M.A., O’Donovan, A., Pulliam, L. (2011). Suppressed monocyte gene expression profile in men versus women with PTSD. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 25(3), 524-531. PMCID: PMC3039086
  10. O’Donovan, A., Sun, B. Cole, S., Rempel, H., Lenoci, M.A., Pulliam, L., & Neylan, T.C. (2011) Transcriptional control activity of monocyte gene expression in post-traumatic stress disorder. Disease Markers, 30(2-3), 123-32. PMCID: PMC3825251
  11. Murphy, T.M., O’Donovan, A., Mullins, N., O’Farrelly, C., McCann, A., & Malone, K.M. (2015) Clinical anxiety is associated with higher levels of global DNA methylation and altered expression of methylation and interleukin-6 genes. Psychiatric Genetics, 25(2):71-8.
  12. Tomiyama, A.J., O’Donovan, A., Lin, J., Puterman, E., Lazaro, A., Chan, J., Dhabhar, F.S., Blackburn, E.H., & Epel, E.S. (2012). Allostatic load and cellular aging: Cortisol covaries with telomere length. Physiology & Behavior, 106(1), 40-45. PMCID: PMC3361080
  13. O’Donovan, A., Tomiyama, A.J., Lin, J., Puterman, E., Adler, N.E., Kemeny, M., Wolkowitz, O.M., Blackburn, E.H. & Epel, E.S. (2012). Stress appraisals and biological aging: A key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(4), 573-579. PMCID: PMC3322317
  14. Aschbacher, K.A., O’Donovan, A., Wolkowitz, O.M., Dhabhar, F.S., Su, Y., & Epel, E. (2013). Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: Insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9):1698-708. PMCID: PMC4028159
  15. O’Donovan, A., Slavich, G.M., Epel, E.S., & Neylan, T.C. (2013). Exaggerated neurobiological sensitivity to threat as a mechanism linking anxiety with increased risk for diseases of aging. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(1), 96-108. PMCID: PMC4361087
  16. O’Donovan, A. & Hughes, B.M. (2006). Your best interests at heart? The Psychologist, 19 (4), 216-219.
  17. O’Donovan, A. & Hughes, B.M. (2008). Access to social support in life and in the laboratory: Combined effects on anxiety and cardiovascular reactivity to stress. Journal of Health Psychology, 13 (8), 1147- 1156.
  18. O’Donovan, A. & Hughes, B.M. (2008). Social support and loneliness in college students: Effects on pulse pressure reactivity to acute stress. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 19 (4), 523-528.
  19. O’Donovan, A. & Hughes, B.M. (2008). Factors that moderate the effects of laboratory-based social support on cardiovascular reactivity to stress. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 8 (1), 85-102.

Complete list of published work: