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Dr Doretta Caramaschi

Dr Doretta Caramaschi

Lecturer (Education and Research)

 Washington Singer 233


Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK


I am a Lecturer (Education and Research) with main focus on neurodevelopment and epigenetics. I have a background in neuroscience and molecular epidemiology. In my research I investigate neurodiversity and how it relates to mental health. I focus on ADHD, autism, epilepsy, depression and anxiety in children and young people. I am passionate about understanding children's brain development and improving their lives. My studies involve epidemiological methods, including surveys, genetic and epigenetic methods. I work with people with lived experience to inform and refine my research.


Fellowship of Advance HE

PhD in behavioural neuroscience (University of Groningen, Netherlands)

MSc in biological sciences (University of Parma, Italy)

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Research interests

I investigateneurodevelopment to understand early pathways to mental health and wellbeing. I am particularly interested in autism, ADHD and epilepsy and co-occurring conditions. Mental health outcomes of interest are depressive and anxiety symptoms, particularly at younger ages. I work with large longitudinal datasets, such as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children and others UK and non-UK studies from the Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics consortium. I conduct longitudinal observational studies, epigenome-wide association studies and I apply genetic epidemiology methods to understand causal links between risk factors and health conditions.

Research networks

Research networks:

Children and Young People Wellbeing at Exeter

Exeter Brain network

Active internal collaborations:

Prof Jonathan Mill

Dr Emma Dempster

Active external collaborations: 

Dr Matt Suderman (University of Bristol)

Dr Sinead English (Unversity of Bristol)

Dr James Hodge (University of Bristol)

Dr Esther Walton (University of Bath)

Dr Charlotte Cecil (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

Dr Janine Felix (Erasmum University, Rotterdam)

Prof. Andrew McIntosh (University of Edinburgh)

Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenomics Consortium

Research grants

  • 2022 GW4
    GW4 Generator Fund (£20,000, PI: James Hodge, Co-Is: Doretta Caramaschi, Alain Nogaret, Edgar Buhl, Dimitri Sastin, Jen Creaser, Ben Housden) to create a GW4 Epilepsy Community across clinicians, molecular scientists, epidemiologists, mathematicians and fruit-fly neuroscientists
  • 2022 The Waterloo Foundation
    Looking through the epigenome to better understand ADHD and co-occurring psycho-neuro-behavioural traits (£64541, PI: Doretta Caramaschi; Co-Is: Eilis Hannon, Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Jonathan Mill, Matthew Suderman, Paul Yousefi, Caroline Relton)

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Journal articles

Caramaschi D (In Press). Assessing the association between global structural brain age and polygenic risk for schizophrenia in early adulthood: a recall-by-genotype study. Cortex
Caramaschi D (In Press). DNA methylation and general psychopathology in childhood:. An epigenome-wide meta-analysis from the PACE consortium. Molecular Psychiatry
Monasso GS, Hoang TT, Mancano G, Fernández-Barrés S, Dou J, Jaddoe VWV, Page CM, Johnson L, Bustamante M, Bakulski KM, et al (2023). A meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies on pregnancy vitamin B12 concentrations and offspring DNA methylation. Epigenetics, 18(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Kotsakis Ruehlmann A, Sammallahti S, Cortés Hidalgo AP, Bakulski KM, Binder EB, Campbell ML, Caramaschi D, Cecil CAM, Colicino E, Cruceanu C, et al (2023). Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of prenatal maternal stressful life events and newborn DNA methylation. Mol Psychiatry, 28(12), 5090-5100. Abstract.  Author URL.
Odintsova VV, Suderman M, Hagenbeek FA, Caramaschi D, Hottenga J-J, Pool R, BIOS Consortium, Dolan CV, Ligthart L, van Beijsterveldt CEM, et al (2022). DNA methylation in peripheral tissues and left-handedness. Sci Rep, 12(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Shen X, Caramaschi D, Adams MJ, Walker RM, Min JL, Kwong A, Hemani G, Genetics of DNA Methylation Consortium, Barbu MC, Whalley HC, et al (2022). DNA methylome-wide association study of genetic risk for depression implicates antigen processing and immune responses. Genome Med, 14(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Ronkainen J, Heiskala A, Vehmeijer FOL, Lowry E, Caramaschi D, Estrada Gutierrez G, Heiss JA, Hummel N, Keikkala E, Kvist T, et al (2022). Maternal haemoglobin levels in pregnancy and child DNA methylation: a study in the pregnancy and childhood epigenetics consortium. EPIGENETICS, 17(1), 19-31.  Author URL.
Taeubert MJ, de Prado-Bert P, Geurtsen ML, Mancano G, Vermeulen MJ, Reiss IKM, Caramaschi D, Sunyer J, Sharp GC, Julvez J, et al (2022). Maternal iron status in early pregnancy and DNA methylation in offspring: an epigenome-wide meta-analysis. CLINICAL EPIGENETICS, 14(1).  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, Neumann A, Cardenas A, Tindula G, Alemany S, Zillich L, Pesce G, Lahti JMT, Havdahl A, Mulder R, et al (2022). Meta-analysis of epigenome-wide associations between DNA methylation at birth and childhood cognitive skills. Molecular Psychiatry, 27(4), 2126-2135. Abstract.
Meijer M, Klein M, Caramaschi D, Mulder R, Cosin M, Lu X, Zhang Y, Röder S, Zilich L, Huels A, et al (2022). P60. Meta-Analysis of Cell Type-Specific DNA Methylation of Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms. Biological Psychiatry, 91(9), s111-s112.
Constantinides C, Caramaschi D, Freeman T, Lancaster T, Zammit S, Walton E (2022). THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN POLYGENIC RISK FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA AND BRAIN AGE IN a POPULATION-BASED SAMPLE OF YOUNG ADULTS: a RECALL-BY-GENOTYPE-BASED APPROACH. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 63, e302-e303.
Caramaschi D, Jungius J, Page CM, Novakovic B, Saffery R, Halliday J, Lewis S, Magnus MC, London SJ, Håberg SE, et al (2021). Association of medically assisted reproduction with offspring cord blood DNA methylation across cohorts. Hum Reprod, 36(8), 2403-2413. Abstract.  Author URL.
Sammallahti S, Cortes Hidalgo AP, Tuominen S, Malmberg A, Mulder RH, Brunst KJ, Alemany S, McBride NS, Yousefi P, Heiss JA, et al (2021). Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and newborn epigenome-wide DNA methylation. MOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY, 26(6), 1832-1845.  Author URL.
Hartwig FP, Davey Smith G, Simpkin AJ, Victora CG, Relton CL, Caramaschi D (2020). Association between Breastfeeding and DNA Methylation over the Life Course: Findings from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). NUTRIENTS, 12(11).  Author URL.
Neumann A, Walton E, Alemany S, Cecil C, Gonzalez JR, Jima DD, Lahti J, Tuominen ST, Barker ED, Binder E, et al (2020). Association between DNA methylation and ADHD symptoms from birth to school age: a prospective meta-analysis. TRANSLATIONAL PSYCHIATRY, 10(1).  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, Hatcher C, Mulder RH, Felix JF, Cecil CAM, Relton CL, Walton E (2020). Epigenome-wide association study of seizures in childhood and adolescence. CLINICAL EPIGENETICS, 12(1).  Author URL.
English S, Wright I, Ashburn V, Ford G, Caramaschi D (2020). Prenatal anxiety, breastfeeding and child growth and puberty: linking evolutionary models with human cohort studies. ANNALS OF HUMAN BIOLOGY, 47(2), 106-115.  Author URL.
Odintsova VV, Hagenbeek FA, Suderman M, Caramaschi D, van Beijsterveldt CEM, Kallsen NA, Ehli EA, Davies GE, Sukhikh GT, Fanos V, et al (2019). DNA Methylation Signatures of Breastfeeding in Buccal Cells Collected in Mid-Childhood. NUTRIENTS, 11(11).  Author URL.
Walton E, Relton CL, Caramaschi D (2019). Using Openly Accessible Resources to Strengthen Causal Inference in Epigenetic Epidemiology of Neurodevelopment and Mental Health. GENES, 10(3).  Author URL.
Rai D, Caramaschi D, Taylor AE, Richmond RC, Havdahl KA, Golding J, Relton CL, Munafo MR, Smith GD (2018). Maternal smoking during pregnancy and autism: using causal inference methods in a birth cohort study. TRANSLATIONAL PSYCHIATRY, 8  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, Sharp GC, Nohr EA, Berryman K, Lewis SJ, Smith GD, Relton CL (2017). Exploring a causal role of DNA methylation in the relationship between maternal vitamin B<sub>12</sub> during pregnancy and child's IQ at age 8, cognitive performance and educational attainment: a two-step Mendelian randomization study. HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS, 26(15), 3001-3013.  Author URL.
Provencal N, Suderman MJ, Caramaschi D, Wang D, Hallett M, Vitaro F, Tremblay RE, Szyf M (2013). Differential DNA Methylation Regions in Cytokine and Transcription Factor Genomic Loci Associate with Childhood Physical Aggression. PLOS ONE, 8(8).  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, Booij L, Petitclerc A, Boivin M, Tremblay RE (2012). Genetic and environmental contributions to saliva testosterone levels in male and female infant twins. PSYCHONEUROENDOCRINOLOGY, 37(12), 1954-1959.  Author URL.
Wang D, Szyf M, Benkelfat C, Provencal N, Turecki G, Caramaschi D, Cote SM, Vitaro F, Tremblay RE, Booij L, et al (2012). Peripheral <i>SLC6A4</i> DNA Methylation is Associated with <i>In Vivo</i> Measures of Human Brain Serotonin Synthesis and Childhood Physical Aggression. PLOS ONE, 7(6).  Author URL.
Natarajan D, Caramaschi D (2010). Animal violence demystified. FRONTIERS IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE, 4  Author URL.
Carere C, Caramaschi D, Fawcett TW (2010). Covariation between personalities and individual differences in coping with stress: Converging evidence and hypotheses. CURRENT ZOOLOGY, 56(6), 728-740.  Author URL.
de Boer SF, Caramaschi D, Natarajan D, Koolhaas JM (2009). The vicious cycle towards violence: focus on the negative feedback mechanisms of brain serotonin neurotransmission. FRONTIERS IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE, 3  Author URL.
Costantini D, Carere C, Caramaschi D, Koolhaas JM (2008). Aggressive and nonaggressive personalities differ in oxidative status in selected lines of mice (<i>Mus musculus</i>). BIOLOGY LETTERS, 4(1), 119-122.  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, de Boer SF, de Vries H, Koolhaas JM (2008). Development of violence in mice through repeated victory along with changes in prefrontal cortex neurochemistry. BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH, 189(2), 263-272.  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, de Boer SF, Koolhaas JM (2008). Is hyper-aggressiveness associated with physiological hypoarousal? a comparative study on mouse lines selected for high and low aggressiveness. PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR, 95(4), 591-598.  Author URL.
Caramaschi D, de Boer SF, Koolhaas JM (2007). Differential role of the 5-HT<sub>1A</sub> receptor in aggressive and non-aggressive mice:: an across-strain comparison. PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR, 90(4), 590-601.  Author URL.


Fernandez-Barres S, Caramaschi D, Wright J, Slama R, Grazuleviciene R, Gutzkow KB, Chatzi L, Felix JF, Vrijheid M, Bustamante M, et al (2023). Association of breastfeeding and genome-wide DNA methylation in child blood.  Author URL.
Meijer M, Klein M, Caramaschi D, Mulder R, Cosin M, Lu X, Zhang Y, Roeder S, Zilich L, Huels A, et al (2022). Meta-Analysis of Cell Type-Specific DNA Methylation of Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms.  Author URL.
Odintsova VV, Suderman M, Hagenbeek FA, Caramaschi D, Hottenga J-J, Ligthart LRS, van Beijsterveld CEM, Willemsen G, Ehli EA, Davies GE, et al (2020). Epigenetics and handedness.  Author URL.

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External Engagement and Impact

Honorary lecturer at the University of Bristol

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Office Hours:

My office hours are Monday 1-2 pm and Friday 1-2 pm.

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