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Catherine Monk Headshot

Catherine Monk

Professor, Medical Psychology, Columbia University

Dr. Catherine Monk is Professor of Medical Psychology in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Ob/Gyn) and Psychiatry, Research Scientist VI at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and founding director of the newly launched initiative to embed Women’s Mental Health in Columbia’s Ob/Gyn Department (Women’s Mental Health @Ob/Gyn). She is also a board member of ZERO TO THREE.

Contributions to the Field

Dr. Monk conducts research studies with pregnant women and their babies to improve their well–being and their future children’s lives. For 20 years, through NIH grants as well as those from foundations such as the March of Dimes and Robin Hood, she has 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 shaping of children’s futures beyond shared genes and the quality of parental care: the impact of pregnant women’s toxic stress on fetal and infant brain–behavior development. Dr. Monk’s 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.


  • Board of Directors, Seleni Institute
  • Board of Directors, the International Marce Society
  • Board of Directors, Marce of North America
  • Member, National Institutes of Health Scientific Review Group Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section
  • Member, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Current Research:

Several NIH funded projects including: a randomized controlled trial of a new intervention to prevent postpartum depression that leverages the mother-infant relationship and begins during pregnancy; examination of women’s childhood adversity affecting their children even before birth, including fetal assessment and brain-behavior outcomes; contribution to NIH’s ECHO studiesEnvironmental influences on Children’s Health Outcomes, a planned cohort of 5,000 children including pre and postnatal exposure to maternal toxic stress and children’s neurobehavioral development.

Recent Honors:

  • Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research