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Welcome to the O'Brien Laboratory

Pregnancy - Nutrigenomics - Microbiome​

The O'Brien laboratory is located in the MVR Building

at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 

Research Interests

A main research focus in the O'Brien laboratory is to help characterize the nutritional, genetic and hormonal determinants of mineral metabolism with an emphasis on maternal and child health. Currently, our research focuses on maternal and fetal bone health, risk of anemia in pregnant women and newborns, maternal and neonatal vitamin D and iron physiology, and genetic determinants of iron absorption. 


Ongoing projects look at the impact of the gut microbiome on iron absorption, work identifying ethnic determinants of iron absorption, and the impact of bio-enhanced chicken meat and eggs on the vitamin D status of healthy adults.


Much of our research involves biomedical mass spectrometry where stable mineral isotopes are given orally or intravenously as tracers. These tracers are measured using mass spectrometric instrumentation for high-sensitivity isotopic analyses. Our lab performs these analyses on a state-of-the-art Thermoquest Triton TI magnetic sector thermal ionization mass spectrometer. Analytical services are also provided through collaboration with other academic institutions in the country.

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Latest Publications

Placental erythroferrone and erythropoietin mRNA expression is not associated with maternal or neonatal iron status.

Delaney KM, Barad A, Castillo L, Hasund CM, Guillet, R, Pressman EK, Katzman PF, Ganz T, Nemeth E, O’Brien KO

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The O’Brien Laboratory is working to understand the nutritional, endocrine, and genomic factors that interact to regulate calcium, vitamin D, and iron homeostasis.

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