Kimberly O'Brien


Kimberly O'Brien

230 Savage Hall
Phone: (607) 255-3743 Fax: (607) 255-1033
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Curriculum Vitae
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 wroking 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 typically includes 15-20 undergraduates; many of whom are co-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; Micronutrient Status in International Settings; Development of Mass Spectrometric Methodology; Pregnancy and Mineral Metabolism in Adolescents and in Women Carrying Multiples, Vitamin D and inflammation


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 Robert Parker)

Related Websites:

O'Brien Laboratory

Selected Publications:

Cao, Chang, O’Brien KO. Pregnancy and Iron Homeostasis; An Update. Nutr Rev 2013; 71(1):35–51

O’Brien KO, Donangelo CM, Ritchie LC, Gildengorin G, Abrams SA, King JC. Impact of calcium intake and serum 1,25(OH)2D on rate of bone calcium deposition across pregnancy and the early postpartum period.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 96(1):64-72.

Young BE, McNanley TJ, Cooper EM, McIntyre AW, Witter F, Harris ZL, O’Brien KO. Maternal Vitamin D Status and Calcium Intake Interact to Impact Fetal Skeletal Growth In-Utero in Pregnant Adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 95(5):1103-12

Young MF, Griffin I, Pressman E, McIntyre A, Cooper E, McNanley T, Harris L, Westerman M, O'Brien KO. Maternal Hepcidin is Associated with Placental Transfer of Iron Derived from Dietary Heme and Non-heme Sources. J Nutr; 2012; 142(1):33-39.

Young BE, McNanley T, Cooper B, McIntyre A, Witter F, Harris ZL, O'Brien KO. Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent and Vitamin D is Inversely Associated with PTH and Calcitriol in Pregnant Adolescents.  J Bone and Min Res 2011; Sep 28. Doi:10.1002/jbmr.526. [Epub ahead of print]

Essley BV, McNanley T, Cooper EM, McIntyre AW, Witter F, Harris ZL, O’Brien KO. Osteoprotegerin differs by race and is related to infant birth weight z-score in pregnant adolescents. J Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2011; 2(5):272-9.

Jaacks LM, Young MF, Essley BV, McNanley TJ, Cooper EM,  Pressman EK, McIntyre AW,   Orlando MS,   Abkowitz JL, Guillet R, O'Brien KO.  Expression of the Heme Transporter, Feline Leukemia Virus Subgroup C Receptor (FLVCR), is Related to Maternal Iron Status in Pregnant Adolescents. J Nutr; 2011 Jul 141(7):1267-72.

Young MF, Griffin I, Pressman E, McIntyre A, Cooper E, McNanley T, Harris L, Westerman M, O'Brien KO. Utilization of iron from an animal-based iron source is greater than that of ferrous sulfate in pregnant and non-pregnant women. J Nutr 2010; 140:2162-6.

Young MF, Pressman E, Foehr M, McNanley T, Cooper E, Guillet R, Orlando M, McIntyre A, Lafond J, O'Brien KO. Impact of Maternal Iron Status on Placental Transferrin Receptor Expression. Placenta 2010; Nov;31(11):1010-4. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian Children with rickets. J Clin Endo Metab 2009; 94(9):3314-21.


Young MF, Glahn RP, Inglis J, Olbina G, Westerman M, O’Brien KO. Serum Hepcidin is Associated with Iron Absorption in Healthy Young Women. Am J Clin Nutr; 2009; 89(2): 533-8.


Atkinson SA, McCabe GP, Weaver CM, Abrams SA, O’Brien KO. Are current calcium recommendations higher than needed to achieve optimal peak bone mass? The controversy. J Nutr 2008; 138:1182-6.


O'Brien KO, Donangelo CM, Zapata CL, Abrams SA, Spencer EM, King JC. Bone calcium turnover during pregnancy and lactation in women with low calcium diets is associated with calcium intake and circulating insulin-like growth factor 1 concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83(2):317-323.


O’Brien KO. Maternal and Fetal Partitioning During Pregnancy: Whose Needs Predominate? Nutrition Today; 2005; 40(3):130-137.


Smith SM, Wastney ME, O'Brien KO, Morukov VB, Larina IM, Abrams SA, Davis-Street JE, Oganov V, Shackelford LC. Bone markers, calcium metabolism, and calcium kinetics during extended-duration space flight on the Mir Space Station. J Bone Miner Res 2005;20(2):208-218.


O’Brien KO, Schulman Nathanson M, Mancini J, Witter FR. Enhanced calcium absorption does not prevent bone loss during pregnancy in adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(6):1188-1193.


Schulze KJ, O’Brien KO, Germain-Lee EL, Baer D, Leonard A, Rosenstein BJ. Endogenous Fecal Losses of Calcium Compromise Calcium Balance in Pancreatic Insufficient Girls with Cystic Fibrosis. J Pediatrics 2003;143:765-771.


O’Brien KO, Zavaleta, N, Abrams SA, Caulfield LE. Maternal Iron Status Influences Iron Transfer to the Fetus During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy. Am J Clin Nutr; 2003; 77:924-30.

Searchable Keywords:
Stable isotopes
Pediatric nutrition
Biomedical Mass spectrometry
Minority Health

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