Gerry Giesbrecht

Associate Professor


Associate Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Contact information

Web presence


Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Mental Health
  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • Gut microbiota

Research activities

My research addresses the biological, psychological and social substrates that interact during development to guide child development outcomes. Specifically, I study the plausible biological mechanisms (i.e., the psychobiology of stress) and the effect modifiers (i.e., risk and resilience factors) that shape the ways in which early life stress becomes imbedded in children’s behavior and the developing brain. My work is rooted within the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) paradigm, which proposes that exposures in early development have extraordinary potency to influence development because biological systems use information from the environment to organize the ways in which they develop and function. Within this broad framework, my research has three foci: 1) the mechanisms by which maternal stress and mental health during pregnancy can alter fetal/infant/child development, 2) the effects that social relationships (e.g., social support, attachment) exert in “re-programming” children’s stress response systems and ultimately their behaviors, and 3) the role of environmental exposures as risk or protective factors in the association between early life stress and child development. The ultimate goal of this program of research is to develop the basic knowledge that is needed in order to design interventions that can ameliorate or prevent the effects of early life stress on children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural development. Because I am interested in factors that shape child development, my work primarily uses longitudinal research methods.