Karen E O'Donnell

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Faculty Fellow of the Center for Child and Family Policy

Karen O'Donnell is an associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and assistant professor in pediatrics. Her research interests are in early development risk: drug exposure, HIV infection, and iodine deficiency. She has ongoing research in developmental outcomes of children exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol. They include the Infant Care Project (pediatrics) and the Family Care Project (psychiatry).

O'Donnell is co-investigator on a NIDA study of SIDS risk with prenatal cocaine exposure. She is also involved at Duke and nationally in the study of the neurodevelopmental effects of pediatric HIV infection. She chairs the Pediatric Neurology Scientific Committee for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (NIAID), coordinating the development of protocols for new drug trials and data analysis of completed ones.

In addition, O'Donnell serves as Director of Early Intervention/Global Initiatives for the Center for Child and Family Health, and holds a senior leadership role at Family Connects International

Research Interests:

  • Early Childhood
  • Child Development


  • Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - 1983

Recent Publications (More Publications)

  • (1993) O\'Donnell K, Zhi-Hong D, Xuw-Y C, Amette K, Xin-Min J, Abdul Rakeman M, Ming-Li Z, DeLong N, Tai M, DeLong GR: Iodine supplementation and infant psychological development. In Stanbury J (ed), The Damaged Brain of Iodine Deficiency. New York: Cognizant Communications Corporation. 1993 ,
  • (1993) Xue-Yi C, Ma Tai XM, Amette K, Zhi-Hong D, Abdul Rakeman M, Ming-Li Z, O'Donnell K, DeLong N, DeLong R: Critical timing of brain vulnerability to iodine deficiency in endemic cretinism: A repletion study. In Stanbury J (ed), The Damaged Brain of Iodine Deficiency. New York: Cognizant Communications Corporation. 1993. ,
  • (1992) Gingras J, Weese-Mayer D, Hume R, O'Donnell K: Cocaine and development: Mechanisms of fetal toxicity and neonatal consequences. Early Human Development 31: 1-24, 1992. ,
  • (1991) McKinney R, Maha M, Connor E, Feinberg J, Scott G, O'Donnell K, Rogers G, Lehrman S, Wilfert C: A multicenter trial of oral zidovudine in children with advance human immunodeficiency disease. New England Journal of Medicine 324: 1018-1025, 1991. ,
  • (1989) Hume R, O'Donnell K, Stanger C, Killam A, Gingras J: In utero cocaine exposure: Observations of fetal behavioral state may predict neonatal outcome. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 161 (3): 685-690, 1989. ,
  • (1989) O'Donnell K, Oehler J: Neurobehavioral assessment of newborn infants. In Worley M, Bailey D (eds), Assessment of High Risk and Handicapped Infants. New York, Charles Merrill and Company, 1989. ,
  • (1983) Gallagher R, Jens K, O'Donnell K: The relationship between physical status and positive affect in handicapped infants. Infant Behavior and Development 5: 73-77, 1983. ,