Dr. Catherine Monk is a professor of medical psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, director of research at the Women’s Program, co-director of the Domestic Violence Initiative at Columbia University Medical Center, and research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Originally trained as a clinical psychologist treating children and adults in a program that emphasized the developmental bases of psychopathology, Dr. Monk completed her postdoctoral research studies in the Psychobiological Sciences at Columbia University via a NIH fellowship, joining the faculty there a year later. Dr. Monk’s research brings together the fields of perinatal psychiatry, developmental psychobiology, and neuroscience and focuses on the earliest influences on children’s developmental trajectories: those that happen in utero and the impact of early intervention on risk prevention for mental health disorders in the future children.
Dr. Monk is internationally recognized for her contributions to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Research model, which relate to prenatal exposure to maternal stress and depression. In addition to shared genes and the postnatal environment, there is a third pathway for the familial inheritance of mental illness, that is, factors in the prenatal environment also play a role. Specifically, her studies have identified maternal prenatal depression effects on child outcomes, including variation in fetal behavior, placental DNA methylation, and newborn brain imaging.
Most recently, Dr. Monk has been awarded key roles on the NIH-wide ECHO project, Environmental influences on Children’s Health Outcomes, a seven-year, nationwide effort to study early factors, including women’s prenatal psychiatric illness and trauma histories, on children’s health outcomes across 50,000 participants. She is a PI on one ECHO award, investigator on another, and elected by her peers to a two-year term to the ECHO Executive Committee.
As of December 2018, she is commencing a 5-year NIMH R01 MPI titled “Intergenerational Transmission of Deficits in Self-Regulatory Control.” She continues to direct a NICHD-funded intervention study based on a novel protocol she and colleagues developed harnessing the child focus of the peripartum period, parenting skills, and CBT to help women at risk for depression, it is called “Preventing Postpartum Depression: A Dyadic Approach Adjunctive to Obstetric Care.” Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since she received her first support as a NIH ‘K’ Career Development Awardee in 2001 as well as by the March of Dimes, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson.