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Kellie L. K. Tamashiro, Ph.D.

Kellie Louise Keiko Tamashiro, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Kellie L. K. Tamashiro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

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

Contact for Research Inquiries

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Ross Building
720 Rutland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-9151
Fax: 410-502-3769

Email me



  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Departments / Divisions



  • B.B.A., University of Hawaii (Hawaii) (1992)
  • Ph.D., University of Cincinnati (Ohio) (2005)

Additional Training

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. 

Lab Website: Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory

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


  • Fellowship, Albert J. Ryan Foundation, 2002 - 2004
  • Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, 2004
  • Alan N. Epstein Research Award, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, 2014
  • Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award Finalist, The Obesity Society, 2007
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Training Grant in Neuroendocrinology (T32 DK-59803), 2003 - 2004
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Training Grant in Psychiatry & Neuroscience (T32 MH-15330), 2005 - 2006
  • Fellowship, University Distinguished Graduate, 2000 - 2003


  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
  • The Obesity Society

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
    Grand Rounds Lectures , Baltimore, MD (12/01/2013)
    Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Recent News Articles and 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

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