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Kellie L. K. Tamashiro, Ph.D.

Kellie Louise Keiko Tamashiro, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Centers & Institutes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory
  • Global Obesity Prevention Center
  • Mood Disorders Center

Research Interests

Stress, depression, obesity, ingestive behavior, eating disorders, Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), epigenetics, neuroendocrinology, animal models


  • English


Society for Neuroscience

Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior

The Obesity Society

Additional Resources

Additional Resources +
  • Education +


    • B.B.A., University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1992, Accounting
    • M.S., University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1999, Biomedical Sciences
    • Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2005, Neuroscience


    • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008, Psychiatry & Neuroscience
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Our research program focuses on the developmental origins of disease. Stressors, including altered diet, psychosocial stress, immune challenge, during gestation can have adverse consequences on the intrauterine environment and increase disease susceptibility of the developing fetus.  The long-term effects on offspring include greater susceptibility to psychiatric disease, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and adverse metabolic conditions including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Another area of interest in the lab is in eating disorders. We use a rat animal model of anorexia (“activity-based anorexia”) to identify the factors that serve to perpetuate and sustain anorexia nervosa-like behavior and increase the likelihood of relapse. 

    Studies in the laboratory use rodent models and incorporate a multilevel approach to determine the behavioral, physiological, and neural correlates of disease development.  Genetic and epigenetic approaches are used to further elucidate molecular mechanisms that may increase susceptibility to psychiatric disease and will facilitate development of diagnostic biomarkers and novel clinical interventions for such conditions. 

    Selected Publications

    Tamashiro KL, Terrillion CE, Hyun, J, Koenig JI and Moran TH. Prenatal stress and high fat diet increase susceptibility to diet-induced obesity in offspring.  Diabetes. 2009; 58(5):1116-25.  PMID: 19188431

    Tamashiro KL and Moran TH.  Perinatal environment and its influences on metabolic programming of offspring.  Physiology & Behavior, 2010; 100(5):560-6.  PMID: 20394764

    Lee RS*, Tamashiro KL*, Yang X, Purcell RH, Harvey A, Willour VL, Huo Y, Rongione M, Wand GS, and Potash JB. Chronic corticosterone exposure increases expression and decreases DNA methylation of the stress-associated gene Fkbp5 in mice.  Endocrinology, 2010; PMID: 20668026. *These authors contributed equally. 

    Tamashiro, KL.  Metabolic syndrome: Links to socioeconomic status and social stress.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2011; 1231(1):46-55.  PMID: 21884160

    Ismail N, Sotomayor-Zarate, R, Bale TL, Blaustein JD, Gysling K, Tamashiro KL. Environmental influences that alter stress neurocircuitry. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 2012, 44(8):592-7.  PMID: 22773371

    Sun B, Purcell RH, Terrillion CE, Yan J, Moran TH, and Tamashiro KL.  Maternal high-fat diet during gestation or suckling differentially affects offspring leptin sensitivity and obesity. Diabetes, 2012; Jun 29 [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 22751689.

    Sun B, Liang N-C, Ewald ER, Purcell RH, Boersma GJ, Yan J, Moran TH, and Tamashiro KL.  Early postweaning exercise improves central leptin sensitivity in offspring of rat dams fed high-fat diet during pregnancy and lactation.  American Journal of Physiology, 2013; 305(9):R1076-84. PMID: 24026073

    Boersma GJ, Lee RS, Cordner ZA, Ewald ER, Purcell RH, Moghadam AA, and Tamashiro KL.  Prenatal stress decreases Bdnf expression and increases methylation of Bdnf exon IV in rats.  Epigenetics, 2014 Mar 1; 9(3):437-47.  PMID: 24365909

    Boersma GJ, Bale TL, Casanello P, Lara HE, Lucion AB, Suchecki D, Tamashiro KL.  Long-term impact of early life events on physiology and behavior.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 2014 Apr 1. doi: 10.1111/jne.12153. PMID: 24690036

  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +

    Graduate Program Affiliation

    Faculty, Cellular & Molecular Medicine Graduate Program

  • Activities & Honors +



    2000-03, University Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, University of Cincinnati

    2002-04, Albert J. Ryan Foundation Fellowship

    2003-04, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Training Grant in Neuroendocrinology (T32 DK-59803)

    2004, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society

    2005-06, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Training Grant in Psychiatry & Neuroscience (T32 MH-15330)

    2007, Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award Finalist, The Obesity Society

    2014, Alan N. Epstein Research Award, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior


  • Videos & Media +

    Recent News Articles & Media Coverage

    Poor prenatal nutrition linked to negative metabolic changes, obesity, American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Dispatch, June 16, 2014

    Hope for Staying Off the Fat Track, Hopkins Brain Wise, Spring 2014

    Happy Thanksgiving: If Kids Exercise, They Are Not Doomed By Maternal Epigenetics To Be ObeseScience 2.0, November 28, 2013

    Olanzapine? Can't Say No to Dough, Hopkins Brain Wise, Winter 2012

  • Events +

    Grand Rounds Lectures

    "Developmental Origins of Health and Disease", Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry & Behaviroal Sciences Grand Rounds, December 2013.

  • Contact & Locations +


    • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

    For Research Inquiries Contact

    The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    720 Rutland Avenue, Ross 618
    Baltimore, MD 21205

    Office Phone: 410-614-9151
    Lab Phone: 410-955-2996
    Fax: 410-502-3769


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