Olivia O'Leary


Olivia O'Leary is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork.  Olivia graduated with a BSc in Biotechnology, NUI, Galway, followed by an MSc in Neuropharmacology at the same institution.  She was a visiting scholar for over three years at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, where she conducted her PhD research in behavioural neuropharmacology.  This was followed by postdoctoral research at the Neuroscience Centre at the University of Helsinki where her research was focused on the role of neuronal plasticity in pathophysiology and treatment of psychiatric disorders.  In 2008, Olivia was awarded a prestigious Career Development Award from the Health Research Board to conduct her research at the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork, where she was appointed as lecturer in 2011.  Olivia then joined the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience as a lecturer in 2012, followed by promotion to Senior Lecturer.        

Olivia's main research interest is in the neurobiology and treatment of stress-related psychiatric disorders with a particular focus on depression and the role that biological sex and the gut microbiota play in these disorders. Her research has been published in high-impact journals including PNAS and Science.  In addition, Olivia has been the recipient of several awards from international professional societies including  the 2015 most outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society (IBANGS), The Rafaelsen Young Investigator Award from the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) and the Fellowship Award from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP; 2010), as well the career development award from the Health Research Board Ireland (2008-2011).  Most recently, Olivia was honoured with the 2020 ECNP Citation Award.  In addition to her teaching and research activities, Olivia is also an expert reviewer for >70 international journals, is on the Editorial Board for Neuropharmacology, Behavioural Pharmacology, and Acta Neuropsychiatrica, acts as an external examiner for PhD thesis and was the external examiner for the BSc (Hons) Biology and Biopharmaceutical Science programme in GMIT (2014-2020), is Chair of the Dept. of Anatomy and Neuroscience Postgraduate Student Affairs committee and is a member of several departmental and university committees. 


Research Interests

Theme:  Microbiota gut brain axis (Gut Microbiota and Women's Mental Health)

SDGs: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 & 12.

Research key words: stress, depression, anxiety, menopause, hippocampal neurogenesis, microbiota, diet, magnesium







APC Microbiome Ireland, Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Ireland,