Professor of Medical Psychology
(in Psychiatry and Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Director of Research, The Women’s Program
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University

Presbyterian Hospital
622 West 168th St, Room 1540
New York, NY 10032

Faculty Profile

Lab website

Research Summary

Perinatal Pathways Lab: Pregnancy, development, mental health

We conduct research studies with pregnant women and their babies to improve their well–being and their future children’s lives. For nearly 20 years, we have contributed to the scientific evidence showing that when pregnant women experience stress, anxiety, and depression, it affects them as well as their offspring in utero. There is a ‘third pathway’ for the familial inheritance of risk for psychiatric illness beyond shared genes and the quality of parental care: the impact of pregnant women’s distress on fetal and infant brain–behavior development. Our projects involve fetal assessment, newborn neuroimaging, genetics, epigenetics, psychoneuroimmunology, mother–child interaction, and supportive interventions to (1) characterize maternal experiences and the effects on children’s development and (2) promote maternal psychobiological health for the mother–child dyad.

Select Publications
  1. Merz EC, McDonough L, Huang YL, Foss S, Werner E, Monk C. The mobile conjugate reinforcement paradigm in a lab setting. Dev Psychobiol. 2017 Jul;59(5):668-672. Epub 2017 Apr 24.
  2. Ecklund-Flores L, Myers MM, Monk C, Perez A, Odendaal HJ, Fifer WP. Maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with increased birth weight in term infants. Dev Psychobiol. 2017 Apr;59(3):314-323.
  3. Weiss M, Benavides MO, Fitelson E, Monk C.The Domestic Violence Initiative: A Private-Public Partnership Providing Psychiatric Care in a Nontraditional Setting. Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Feb 1;68(2):212.
  4. Posner J, Cha J, Roy AK, Peterson BS, Bansal R, Gustafsson HC, Raffanello E, Gingrich J, Monk C. Alterations in amygdala-prefrontal circuits in infants exposed to prenatal maternal depression. Transl Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 1;6(11):e935.
  5. Gustafsson H, Doyle C, Gilchrist M, Werner E, Monk C. Maternal abuse history and reduced fetal heart rate variability: Abuse-related sleep disturbance is a mediator. Dev Psychopathol. 2017 Aug;29(3):1023-1034. Epub 2016 Oct 20.
  6. Walsh K, Basu A, Werner E, Lee S, Feng T, Osborne LM, Rainford A, Gilchrist M, Monk C. Associations Among Child Abuse, Depression, and Interleukin-6 in Pregnant Adolescents: Paradoxical Findings. Psychosom Med. 2016 Oct;78(8):920-930.
  7. Do C, Lang CF, Lin J, Darbary H, Krupska I, Gaba A, Petukhova L, Vonsattel JP, Gallagher MP, Goland RS, Clynes RA, Dwork A, Kral JG, Monk C, Christiano AM, Tycko B.Mechanisms and Disease Associations of Haplotype-Dependent Allele-Specific DNA Methylation. Am J Hum Genet. 2016 May 5;98(5):934-55.
  8. Monk C, Feng T, Lee S, Krupska I, Champagne FA, Tycko B. Distress During Pregnancy: Epigenetic Regulation of Placenta Glucocorticoid-Related Genes and Fetal Neurobehavior. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Jul 1;173(7):705-13.
  9. O’Connor TG, Monk C, Burke AS. Maternal Affective Illness in the Perinatal Period and Child Development: Findings on Developmental Timing, Mechanisms, and Intervention. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Mar;18(3):24.
  10. Gustafsson HC, Kuzava SE, Werner EA, Monk C. Maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy is associated with infant temperament. Dev Psychobiol. 2016 May;58(4):528-35. doi: 10.1002/dev.21391. Epub 2015 Dec 28.
  11. Monk C, Georgieff MK, Xu D, Hao X, Bansal R, Gustafsson H, Spicer J, Peterson BS. Maternal prenatal iron status and tissue organization in the neonatal brain. Pediatr Res. 2016 Mar;79(3):482-8. Epub 2015 Nov 24.
  12. Chapman A, Monk C. Domestic Violence Awareness. Am J Psychiatry. 2015 Oct;172(10):944-5.
  13. Werner EA, Gustafsson HC, Lee S, Feng T, Jiang N, Desai P, Monk C. PREPP: postpartum depression prevention through the mother-infant dyad. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2016 Apr;19(2):229-42. Epub 2015 Aug 2.
  14. Walsh K, Basu A, Monk C. The Role of Sexual Abuse and Dysfunctional Attitudes in Perceived Stress and Negative Mood in Pregnant Adolescents: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2015 Oct;28(5):327-32. Epub 2014 Sep 28.
  • Preventing Postpartum Depression: A Dyadic Approach Adjunctive to Obstetric Care
    Period: 2017- 2022
    Role: PI
  • Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Disadvantage: Neurodevelopment among Puerto Rican Children
    Period: 2016–2023
    Role: PI (MPI)
  • Environmental Contributors to Child Health Originating from the National Fetal Growth Study
    Period: 2016–2023
    Role: Co–Investigator (Vena, J. & Wapner, R., MPIs)
  • In Utero Assessment of the Human Neural Connectome and Later Child Behavior
    1 R01 MH110793–01
    Period: 2016–2021
    Role: Co–Investigator (PI: Thomason, M.)
  • Advancing the Science and Technology of Prenatal Programming Research
    1 R21 MH109777–01
    Period: 2016–2018
    Role: Consultant. (Crowell, S., PI)
  • Promoting Mother-Baby Bonding Through a Relaxation Routine During Pregnancy
    Johnson & Johnson
    Period: 2016–2018
    Role: PI
  • PREPP Intervention & Research
    Robin Hood Foundation
    Role: PI
  • Domestic Violence Initiative
    Chapman Perelman Foundation
    Period: 2013–2017
    Role: Co–PI
  • Center for Research on the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic & Behavioral Genetics
    Period: 2013–2018
    Role: Investigator (Appelbaum, P., PI)

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