Professor Kirsty Donald

Deputy Director Neuroscience Institute, Early Childhood Development Researcher, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health

Research Interests

The way the brain develops in the first few years of life has an extraordinary impact on the emergence of skills needed to learn, work and manage everyday life. This is particularly important in environments such as ours where environmental risks to healthy brain growth and development are highest. My recent research has focused on exploring how genetic and genomic approaches, developmental and cognitive tools, and particularly multiple neuro-imaging methods can facilitate a deeper understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms for the impact of HIV-exposure, substance exposure, nutrition, maternal mental health and other paediatric exposures on the developing brain. As a member of the policy team for the National Department of Health and Social Development I am involved in addressing developmental disability screening and intervention in South Africa. Similarly, I am on the UNICEF expert-panel for global standard-setting in early childhood development.

Research Areas

Clinical Neuroscience • Cognitive & Behavioural Neuroscience • Developmental Neuroscience • Neuroimaging • Neurogenetics