Dr Joanne O’Donnell

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

What is your role at your work?

I am a postdoctoral researcher, studying the factors that influence the immune system in hypertension, such as the gut microbiota, diet and cell death. I do this in mouse models of hypertension.

How did you get interested in your career path?

After my undergraduate degree I worked as a research assistant at various places. While I was working at a non-profit on vaccines for diseases of neglect, I discovered a renewed interest in science. I eventually did my PhD on the interplay between cell death and inflammation, and have been pursuing interesting science since!

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?

I’m proud of still being in research. For different reasons, I’ve had to start again in 3 different labs after returning from each maternity leave. It’s been challenging, but I’m proud of myself for still being here!

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I have 3 young kids. With each child, I have faced a different challenge in trying to maintain career trajectory while balancing family life. Perseverance and being surrounded by supportive people is key to managing these challenges.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t worry about the small stuff. It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s little problems, that end up being quite trivial in the big picture.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications (3-5) – if relevant to you.

My most significant hypertension contributions are:
O’Donnell, JA, et al. The gut microbiome and hypertension. Nat Rev Nephrol, 2023;

Beale, AL, JA O’Donnell, et al. The Gut Microbiome of Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction. J Am Heart Assoc, 2021;10:e020654

Outside of hypertension, my most significant contributions are:
Rickard, JA,* JA O’Donnell,* et al. RIPK1 regulates RIPK3-MLKL-driven systemic inflammation and emergency hematopoiesis. Cell, 2014;157:1175-1188

O’Donnell, JA, et al. Dendritic Cell RIPK1 Maintains Immune Homeostasis by Preventing Inflammation and Autoimmunity. J Immunol, 2018;200:737-748

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.

My mentors are responsible for me being where I am today. I rely on my mentors to provide me with the strategic perspective that I often find hard to see when focusing on day-to-day life.

How can we support the next generation of women scientists?

Increasing the visibility of women is a key way to support the next generation of women in science. This includes equal numbers of women in receiving awards, on boards and in senior positions. Increased visibility together with mentoring helps to create pathways to success.