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Janina Galler

Janina R. Galler, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Psychiatrist in the Chester M. Pierce MD Division of Global Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Galler studies the effects of childhood malnutrition throughout the lifespan and across generations. Her unique, 45+ year study, which is based in Barbados, examines the impact of early childhood malnutrition on adult survivors and their children and grandchildren.

More about Dr. Galler

Malnutrition afflicts 34% of all children under five years of age worldwide. Even in this country, one out of every four American children lives in a food insecure household, meaning that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Dr. Galler’s research adds important knowledge to our understanding of the effects of malnutrition during development and provides the scientific basis for public policy directed at underserved children in the US and elsewhere.

Her research shows that in previously malnourished children, there is an increased prevalence of attention deficit disorders which continues in adulthood and into the next generation. In addition to examining mental health outcomes, Dr. Galler has also been studying health consequences of childhood malnutrition, including the rise in obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Her work shows that the effects of malnutrition can last for generations, even when offspring have never been malnourished themselves.  An exciting, new facet of the research involves the study of epigenetics, wherein changes in gene expression occur in response to a nutritional insult early in life. In determining the epigenetic basis for the long-term and generational consequences of malnutrition, Dr. Galler hopes to identify a potentially reversible mechanism.

Her interdisciplinary program includes both human studies and parallel investigations using animal models of malnutrition. In the live animal, behavior and neurophysiology are examined; these are followed by in vitro neuroanatomical, molecular and epigenetic studies. The animal investigation allows for controlled studies of mechanisms underlying changes in behavior and brain development.


Janina R. Galler, MD, is recognized as a leader in the areas of child nutrition and mental health.  A summa cum laude graduate of Sophie Newcomb College, she received her MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  She was a resident in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  Dr. Galler was the first Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Public Policy Fellow and served as a US Senate Fellow. She is a former member and chair of the Eunice K. Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Advisory Council, which oversees research funding for child health in the United States and abroad. Dr. Galler is the author of over 160 published papers and two books.


For Dr. Galler’s publications, please refer to the following links: