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Department ofPublic Health

Katherine Saxton

Katherine Saxton

Associate Professor, Biology & Public Health

  • BA 2002 Brown University

  • MPH 2006 UC Berkeley

  • Ph.D. 2010 UC Berkeley


How do social environments become biologically embedded to affect health and disease? My research combines social epidemiology and the biology of stress to explore the ways in which experiences during critical periods of development can shape health trajectories and interact with later exposures to shape health outcomes. My research focuses on the ways in which social determinants of health affect our biology, including inflammatory and metabolic processes, the endocrine responses to stress, and gestational outcomes, all of which influence and predict a wide range of diseases. I am interested in questions such as: Can environmental interventions reduce the harmful effects of early life adversity? How do prenatal and postnatal environments influence inflammatory and metabolic outcomes? I am particularly interested in the environmental and social circumstances which can produce vulnerability or resilience, as well as the biological mechanisms responsible for behavioral and health outcomes, in order to identify opportunities for intervention.

  • PHSC 1 Human Health & Disease

  • PHSC 100 Epidemiology

  • BIOL 119 Biology of Stress
  • Estacio, S. M., Thursby, M. M., Simms, N. C., Orozco, V. A., Wu, J. P., Miawotoe, A. A., Worth, W. W., Capeloto, C. B., Yamashita, K., Tewahade, K. R. & Saxton K.B. (2021). Food insecurity in older female mice affects food consumption, coping behaviors, and memory. PLoS ONE, 16(4), e0250585.

  • Catalano, R., Karasek, D., Bruckner, T., Casey, J. A., Saxton, K., Ncube, C. N., Shaw, G. M., Elser, H., & Gemmill, A. (2021). African American Unemployment and the Disparity in Periviable Births. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 1-9.

  • Saxton, K. B., Gemmill, A., Casey, J. A., Elser, H., Karasek, D., & Catalano, R. (2020). Reproductive suppression and longevity in human birth cohorts. American Journal of Human Biology, 32(3), e23353.

  • Saxton, K., & Chyu, L. (2020). Early life adversity increases the salience of later life stress: an investigation of interactive effects in the PSID. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 11(1), 25-36.

  • Catalano, R., Bruckner, T., Avalos, L. A., Stewart, H., Karasek, D., Kariv, S., Gemmill, A., Saxton, K., & Casey, J. (2019). Understanding periviable birth: A microeconomic alternative to the dysregulation narrative. Social Science & Medicine, 233, 281-284.

  • Catalano, R., Gemmill, A., Casey, J., Karasek, D., Stewart, H., & Saxton, K. (2018). Separating the Bruce and Trivers‐Willard effects in theory and in human data. American Journal of Human Biology, 30(2), e23074.

  • Catalano, R, Bruckner T, Avalos LA, Stewart H, Karasek D, Kariv S, Gemmill A, Saxton K, Casey J. Understanding periviable birth: A microeconomic alternative to the dysregulation narrative. Social Science & Medicine (2017).

  • Saxton, K. B., Gemmill, A., & Catalano, R. A. (2017). Reproductive suppression follows threats to child survival. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30(5), 889-897.

  • Khan, M., Ilcisin, M., & Saxton, K. (2017). Multifactorial discrimination as a fundamental cause of mental health inequities. International journal for equity in health, 16(1), 43.

  • Catalano, R. A., Saxton, KB, Gemmill, A., & Hartig, T. (2016). Twinning in Norway Following the Oslo Massacre: Evidence of a “Bruce Effect” in Humans. Twin Research & Human Genetics, 19(5).

  • Handy C, Yanaga S, Reiss A, Zona N, Robinson E, Saxton KB (2016) Stress during Adolescence Alters Palatable Food Consumption in a Context-Dependent Manner. PLoS ONE, 11(2): e0148261.

  • Sakhai, S. A., Saxton, K., Francis, D. D. (2016). The influence of early maternal care on perceptual attentional set shifting and stress reactivity in adult rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 58(1), 39-51.
  • Thomas, M., Wara, D., Saxton, K., Truskier, M., Chesney, M., Boyce, W. T. (2013). Family adversity and autonomic reactivity association with immune changes in HIV-affected school children. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75(6).

  • Bruckner, T. A., Saxton, K. B., Pearl, M., Currier, R., Kharrazi, M. (2012). A test of maternal human chorionic gonadotropin during pregnancy as an adaptive filter of human gestations. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, rspb20121797.

  • Saxton, K., Falconi, A., Goldman-Mellor, S., Catalano, R. (2013). No evidence of programmed late-life mortality in the Finnish famine cohort. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 4(01), 30-34.

  • Catalano, R.A., Saxton, K.B., Bruckner, T.A., Pearl, M., Anderson, E., Goldman-Mellor, S., Margerison-Zilko, C., Subbaraman, M., Currier, R.J., Kharrazi, M. (2012), Hormonal evidence supports the theory of selection in utero. American Journal of Human Biology, 24: 526–532. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22265

  • Catalano, R., Margerison‐Zilko, C., Goldman‐Mellor, S., Pearl, M., Anderson, E., Saxton, K., Bruckner, T., Subbaraman, M., Goodman, J., Epstein, M. and Currier, R. (2012). Natural selection in utero induced by mass layoffs: the hCG evidence. Evolutionary Applications, 5(8), 796-805.

  • Catalano R, Goodman J, Margerison-Zilko CE, Saxton KB, Anderson E, Epstein M. Selection against small males in utero: a test of the Wells hypothesis. Human Reproduction. (2012): der480.

  • Saxton, KB, John-Henderson, N., Reid, M. W., & Francis, D. D. (2011). The social environment and IL-6 in rats and humans. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 25(8), 1617-1625.

  • Catalano, R. A., Bruckner, T. A., Smith, K. R., Saxton, K. B. (2012). Temperature oscillations may shorten male lifespan via natural selection in utero. Climatic Change, 110(3-4), 697-707.

  • Catalano RA, Margerison-Zilko CE, Saxton KB, LeWinn K, Anderson E. Reconstructing dose: A critique of McEniry’s “Infant mortality, season of birth, and the health of older Puerto Rican adults.” Social Science and Medicine. 2011 Mar;72(6):1016-7; discussion 1018-20.
Valeriote Goldman Symposium: Public Health & Social Justice