Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Faculty Profiles

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photo Christopher P. O'Donnell, PhD

Executive Vice Chair of Academic Affairs, Department of Medicine

Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine

Professor of Cell Biology, Department of Cell Biology


Phone: 412-624-7987

Office: 1218 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: 412-624-7987
Fax: 412-692-2260
Administrative Assistant:
Katie Nauman
Phone: 412-624-7987
Education and Training
B.Ph.Ed, Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1982
BS (Mathematics), Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1982
BS (Physiology Honors 1), Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1983
PhD, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, 1988
Post-doctoral Fellow, Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, 1991
Research Interest
Dr. O’Donnell’s interests are in the pathophysiology of hypoxia and sleep apnea and its relationship to metabolic and cardiovascular dysfunction. His laboratory utilizes murine models of obesity and hypoxia using a variety of chronically instrumented inbred and transgenic mouse strains. In respiratory studies, he has established in the genetically obese ob/ob mouse that leptin deficiency leads to respiratory depression, and that leptin replacement can correct this respiratory depression independent of weight, food intake or metabolism. In metabolic studies, he has demonstrated that lean mice can exhibit insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia during exposure to intermittent hypoxia (simulating sleep apnea) as well as leading to a compensatory increase in pancreatic beta cell replication. More recently he has shown that long-term exposure to sustained hypoxia (simulating altitude) can lead to compensatory increases in insulin sensitivity. In cardiovascular studies, Dr. O’Donnell and colleagues have studied the impact of heart failure on disruption of sleep architecture, and examined how the upregulation of cardiac leptin signaling plays a crucial role in reducing morbidity and mortality in response to myocardial ischemia. Finally, in collaboration with Dr. Bryan McVerry, Dr. O’Donnell is studying the mechanisms underlying the development of hyperglycemia in critical illness.
Educational Interest
Dr. O’Donnell plays a leading role in career development activities in PACCM, the Vascular Medicine Institute, and Cardiology, and is Co-Director on four T32s.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Ray, N. B., Durairaj, L., Chen, B. B., McVerry, B. J., Ryan, A. J., Donahoe, M., Waltenbaugh, A. K., O'Donnell, C. P., Henderson, F. C., Etscheidt, C. A., McCoy, D. M., Agassandian, M., Hayes-Rowan, E. C., Coon, T. A., Butler, P. L., Gakhar, L. S. N., Mathur, S. N., Sieren, J. C., Tyurina, Y. Y., Kagan, V. E., McLennan, G., Mallampalli, R. K. Dynamic regulation of cardiolipin by the lipid pump Atp8b1 determines severity of lung injury in experimental pneumonia. Nature Medicine. 2010; 16(10): 1120-1127.
Singamsetty, S., Watanabe, Y., Guo, L., Corey, C., Wang, Y., Tejero, J., McVerry, B. J., Gladwin, M. T., Shiva, S., O’Donnell, C. P. Inorganic nitrite improves components of the metabolic syndrome independent of weight change in a murine model of obesity and insulin resistance. Journal of Physiology. 2015; 593(14): 3135-3145.
Alonso, L.C., Watanabe, Y., Stefanovski, D., Lee, E. J., Singamsetty, S., Romano, L. C., Zou, B., Garcia-Ocana, A., Bergman, R. N., O’Donnell, C. P. Simultaneous measurement of insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion and the disposition index in conscious unhandled mice. Obesity. 2012; 20(7): 1403-1412.
McGaffin, K. R., Sun, C. K., Rager, J. J., Romano, L. C., Zou, B., Mathier, M. A., O’Doherty, R. M., McTiernan, C. F., O’Donnell, C. P. Leptin signalling reduces the severity of cardiac dysfunction and remodelling after chronic ischaemic injury. Cardiovascular Research. 2008; 77(1): 54-63.
Yokoe, T., Alonso, L. C., Romano, L. C., Rosa, T. C., O’Doherty, R. M., Garcia-Ocana, A., Minoguchi, K., O'Donnell, C. P. Intermittent hypoxia reverses the diurnal glucose rhythm and causes pancreatic beta cell replication in mice. Journal of Physiology. 2008; 586(3): 899-911.
Iiyori, N., Alonso, L. C., Li, J., Sanders, M. H., Garcia-Ocana, A., O’Doherty, R. M., Polotsky, V. Y., O'Donnell, C. P. Intermittent hypoxia causes insulin resistance in lean mice independent of autonomic activity. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2007; 175: 851-857.
Raju, S. V., Zheng, M., Schuleri, K. H., Phan, A. C., Bedja, D., Saraiva, R. M., Yiginer, O., Vandegaer, K., Gabrielson, K. L., O’Donnell, C. P., Berkowitz, D. E., Barouch, L. A., Hare, J. M. Activation of the novel cardiac ciliary neurotophic factor receptor reverses LVH in leptin deficient and leptin resistant obesity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2006; 103(11): 4222-4227.
Polotsky, V. Y., Li, J., Punjabi, N. M., Rubin, A. E., Smith, P. L., Schwartz, A. R., O’Donnell, C. P. Intermittent hypoxia increases insulin resistance in genetically obese mice. Journal of Physiology. 2003; 552: 253-64.
Barouch, L. A., Berkowitz, D. E., Harrison, R. W., O’Donnell, C. P., Hare, J. M. Disruption of leptin signaling contributes to cardiac hypertrophy independently of body weight in mice. Circulation. 2003; 108(6): 754-759.
O’Donnell, C. P., Schaub, C. D., Haines, A. S., Tankersley, C. G., Schwartz, A. R., Smith, P. L. Leptin prevents respiratory depression in obesity. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 1999; 159(5): 1477-1484.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Myocardial Infarction and Mechanisms of Impaired Sleep and Breathing
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL132877
Start Year: 2017
End Year: 2021
Title: Nitrite and Hypoxia Increase Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Insulin Sensitivity
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL111706
Start Year: 2013
End Year: 2017
Title: Regulation of Fuel Utilization by Lysine Acetylation in the Failing Heart
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R56 HL132917
Start Year: 2016
End Year: 2017
Title: Mechanisms of Lung Homeostatis by F box Proteins
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL097376
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2018
Title: Antidote for Inhaled CO Poisoning Based on Mutationally Engineered Neuroglobin
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL125886
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2018
Title: Cardiolipin as a Novel Mediator of Acute Lung Injury - Core C
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: P01 HL114453
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2018
Title: Effects of Dose-Dependent Sleep Disruption on Fear and Reward Responses
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Department of Defense
Start Year: 2012
End Year: 2017
Title: Identifying Mechanisms by Which a Novel Human Obesity-Risk Variant Protects Against Diabetes Using Cell and Animal Models
Role: Collaborator
Funding Agency: American Diabetes Association
Grant Number: RES
Start Year: 2017
End Year: 2019
Notable Achievements
Permanent member, NIH study section (RIBT), 2006-2010
Chair, NIH study section (RIBT), 2008-2010
Organizer and Chair, 11th International Sleep and Breathing meeting, Pittsburgh (Invitation-only meeting of 200 researchers), 2009
Chair, Programming Committee for SRN Assembly, 2013-2014
Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005-2011
Associate Editor, Obesity, 2008-2012
Chair, Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology Assembly Nominating Committee, 2015
Australasian Sleep Society. Helen Bearpark Memorial Lecture. ‘The effect of myocardial infarction on sleep in mice’ (plenary lecture), 2011