Kimberly O'Brien


Kimberly O'Brien

230 Savage Hall
Phone: (607) 255-3743 Fax: (607) 255-1033
View Cornell University Contact Info
Biographical Statement:

Kimberly O’Brien received her B.S. in Biology from the University of New Hampshire and her PhD in Nutrition from the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Her professional training included fellowships with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Laboratory of Theoretical and Physical Biology/Section for Metabolic Analysis and Mass Spectrometry and the Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine. Professor O'Brien joined the faculty in the Division of Nutritional Sciences after working for 10 years as a faculty member in the Center of Human Nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Professor O’Brien’s research has centered on studies designed to better understand mineral metabolism and bone health in infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women in both developed and developing countries. To address issues of calcium metabolism, she has undertaken metabolic studies in groups including children from osteoporotic families, pregnant and lactating adolescents, and children with chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis and HIV infection. Her current research focuses on the impact of adolescent pregnancy, particularly among minority populations, on maternal and fetal bone health, risk of anemia, vitamin D insufficiency and risk of infections, birth outcomes and nutritional status in women carrying multiples. Partitioning of nutrients between the mother and fetus is addressed at the cellular level by assessing placental mineral transporters in relation to maternal and neonatal status.

To allow for kinetic studies of human mineral metabolism, a mass spectrometry laboratory has been added to the existing resources in the Human Metabolic Research Unit. This laboratory includes instrumentation for high-sensitivity mineral stable isotope analysis using a  Triton TI magnetic sector thermal ionization mass spectrometer. This laboratory also provides analytical services through collaboration with other academic institutions in the country.

Teaching and Advising Statement:

I teach an undergraduate Human Anatomy and Physiology course and co-teach a graduate course on micronutrient metabolism. I am committed to promoting hands-on, investigative, opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in clinical research. Our laboratory group also actively involves undergraduates; many of whom are co-authors or senior authors on the research generated. Scientific writing is emphasized and facilitated with weekly undergraduate and graduate writing groups and with weekly meetings for all on-site and off-site study personnel.  Graduate and post-doctoral students gain mentoring experience by providing guidance in methods development and data analysis to undergraduate laboratory students.

Current Professional Activities:

Adjunct Professor, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rochester, NY

Current Research Activities:

Calcium Metabolism and Bone Health; Maternal and Neonatal Anemia, Control of Maternal/Fetal Nutrient; Partitioning and Placental Mineral Transport;  Mineral Metabolism in Pregnant Adolescents and in Women Carrying Multiples, Vitamin D Kinetics during Pregnancy


NRSA Fellowship 1993-1995 - Baylor College of Medicine, Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, TX

IRTA Fellowship - 1991-1993 - National Institutes of Health, Section on Metabolic Analysis and Mass Spectrometry, Bethesda, MD

PhD - 1991     University of Connecticut, Nutrition

BS   - 1985     University of New Hampshire, Biology

Courses Taught:

NS3410 - Human Anatomy and Physiology
NS6310 - Micronutrients (Primary Instructor Charles McCormick)

Related Websites:

O'Brien Laboratory

Selected Publications:

1.   Whisner CM, O’Brien KO, Cooper EM, Pressman EK. Pregnant Adolescents Participating in a Vitamin D Supplementation Trial Have a Preference for Receiving Prenatal Nutrition and Health Information via Digital Media Platforms. In Press 2016; Medical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

2.   Ru Y, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Guillet R, Katzman PJ, Kent T, Bacak SJ, O’Brien KO. Iron Deficiency and Anemia are Prevalent in Women Carrying Multiples. Am J Clin Nutr 2016; 104(4):1052-60.

3.   Akoh C, Pressman EK, Cooper E, Queenan RA, Pillittere J, O’Brien KO. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Infections in a Pregnant Adolescent Population. J Pediatr Adoles Gynecology; In Press 2016; Aug 10. pii: S1083-3188(16)30131-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2016.08.001. [Epub ahead of print]

4.   Best CM, Pressman EK, Cao C, Cooper E, Guillet R, Yost OL, Galati J, Kent T, O’Brien KO. Maternal Iron Status During Pregnancy compared with Neonatal Iron Status Better Predicts Placental Iron Transporter Expression in Humans. FASEB J. 2016; 30(10):3541-3550.

5.   Layden AJ, O’Brien KO, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Kent TR, Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B12 and Placental Expression of Transcobalamin in Pregnant Adolescents. Placenta 2016; 45:1-7.

6.   Ware N, Oni L, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA, Rees L. The Dual-Tracer Stable Isotope Method to Measure Calcium Absorption in Children on Dialysis; A New Use of An Old Technique. Pediatric Nephrology 2016; 2016 Oct;31(10):1713-4. doi: 10.1007/s00467-016-3435-0. Epub 2016 Jun 25.

7.   Kothapalli KSD, Gadgil MS, Carlson SE, O’Brien KO, Zhang JY, Park HG, Ojukwu K, Zou J, Hyon SS, Joshi KS, Brenna JT. Positive Selection on a Regulatory Insertion-Deletion Polymorphism in FADS2 Influences Apparent Endogenous Synthesis of Arachidonic Acid. Mol Biol Evol 2016; Jul;33(7):1726-39

8.   Whisner CM, Bruening M, O’Brien KO. A Brief Survey of Dietary Beliefs and Behaviors of Pregnant Adolescents.  J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2016 Oct;29(5):476-81.  

9.   Omotayo MO, Dickin KL, O’Brien KO, Neufeld LM, De-Regil LM, Stoltzfus RJ. Calcium Supplementation to Prevent Preeclampsia:  Translating Guidelines into Practice. Advances in Nutrition 2016; Mar 15; 7(2):275-8. doi:10.3945/an.115.010736

10. Cao C, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Guillet R, O’Brien KO. Pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index and Gestational Weight Gain Have a Limited Impact on Maternal Hepcidin but no Significant Impact on Maternal or Neonatal Iron Status. Repro Sci 2016; May;23(5):613-22.   

11. Lee S, Guillet R, Cooper E, Westerman M, Orlando M, Kent T, Pressman E, O’Brien KO. Prevalence of Anemia and Associations between Neonatal Iron Status, Hepcidin and Maternal Iron Status among Neonates Born to Pregnant Adolescents. Pediatr Res 2016; Jan;79(1-1):42-8. doi: 10.1038/pr.2015.183. Epub 2015 Sep 18.

12. Thomas CE, Guillet R, Queenan RA, Cooper EM, Kent TR, Pressman EK, Vermeylen FM, Roberson MS, O’Brien KO. Vitamin D Status is Inversely Associated with Anemia and Serum Erythropoietin during Pregnancy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015; 102(5):1088-95.

13. DelaValle D, Glahn R, Shaff J, O’Brien KO. Iron Absorption from Intrinsically-Labeled Lentils. J Nutr 2015; 145(10):2253-7.    

14. Ye K, Cao C, O’Brien KO, Gu Z. Natural Selection on HFE in Asian Populations Contributes to Enhanced Non-heme Iron Absorption. BMC Genet. 2015 Jun 10;16:61. doi: 10.1186/s12863-015-0223-y.

15. Sirichakwal PP, Kamchansupasin A,  Akoh CC,  Puwastien P, Kriengsinyos W, Chareonkiatkul S,  Komindr S, O’Brien KO. Vitamin D Status is Associated with Calcium Absorption among Postmenopausal Thai Women with Habitually Low Calcium Intakes. J Nutr. 2015 May;145(5):990-5. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.207290. Epub 2015 Mar 25.

16. Whisner CM, Young BE, Queenan RA, Cooper EM, Pressman EK, O’Brien KO. Maternal Diet but not Gestational Weight Gain Predicts Fetal Fat Accretion in Utero. In Press; International J of Obesity (Lond). 2015 Apr;39(4):565-70.doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.202. Epub 2014 Dec 3.

17. Finkelstein JL, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Kent TR, Bar HY, O’Brien KO. Vitamin D Status Impacts Serum Metabolomic Profiles in Pregnant Adolescents. Reproductive Sciences 2015 Jun;22(6):685-95. doi: 10.1177/1933719114556477. Epub 2014 Nov 2.



Selected Keywords:
Maternal and Child Health,Calcium,Iron, Anemia,Stable isotopes,Pediatric nutrition,Placenta,Pregnancy,Osteoporosis, Biomedical Mass spectrometry,Bone,Minority Health,Vitamin D

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.