Erin C Dunn, ScD, MPH

Associate Investigator
Center for Genomic Medicine, Mass General Research Institute
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
Associate Member
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute
Affiliated Faculty
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
anxiety; biomarkers; childhood adversity; depression; epigenetics; gene-environment interactions; genetics; life course; resilience; sensitive periods; stress; teeth; tooth; trauma; women

Dr. Dunn is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist with expertise in genetics and epigenetics. Her research lab ( uses interdisciplinary approaches to better understand the social and biological factors that influence risk for depression among women, children, and adolescents. The goal of her work is to identify the causal mechanisms underlying risk for depression, translate that knowledge to population-based strategies for prevention, and target those strategies to “sensitive periods” in development. Sensitive periods are high-risk/high-reward stages in the course of the lifespan when experience, whether exposure to adversity on the one hand or health-promoting interventions on the other, can have lasting impacts on brain health. Through her efforts to determine when these sensitive periods occur, her goal is to design interventions that not only prevent brain disease and promote brain health across the lifespan, but are also uniquely timed to minimize the consequences of stress exposure, prevent depression before it onsets, and make the most efficient use of limited public health dollars.

Dr. Dunn is engaged in several lines of research related to this goal.  For example, she is testing the hypothesis that children's shed baby teeth might provide a new way to measure children's early life experiences, including their exposure to stress and trauma.  This work was recently featured in the Boston Globe, WGBH, and other news outlets.  To test this possibility, Dr. Dunn is now recruiting participants for The STRONG (Stories Teeth Record of Newborn Growth) Study (, which is studying women who were pregnant or had newborns around the time of the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt of 2013.  

Dr. Dunn tweets at @ErinDunnScD, posts on Facebook, and maintains a blog called Said & Dunn.

Research website Publications
Center for Genomic Medicine
Simches Building
185 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114-2790