Karen Parker PhD

Stanford University


Dr. Parker is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where she directs the Social Neurosciences Research Program and Chairs the Major Laboratories Steering Committee. Dr. Parker’s research expertise is the biology of social functioning, with a particular interest in oxytocin and vasopressin signaling pathways. Her preclinical research program focuses on developing novel animal models; her clinical research program encompasses biomarker discovery and therapeutic testing in patients with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

The principal goal of Dr. Karen Parker’s Lab Social Neurosciences Research Program is to better understand the biology of social functioning using an integrative, translational approach. The lab’s behavioral research spans studies of individual differences in rhesus monkey social development to studies of social cognition impairments in various clinical populations (e.g., in children with autism; in survivors of pediatric hypothalamic-pituitary tumors; in adults with posttraumatic stress disorder).

The lab is particularly interested in testing whether “social” neuropeptide (e.g., oxytocin and arginine vasopressin) signaling pathways are implicated in human and non-human primate social behavior, and whether these neuropeptide pathways are robust biomarkers of, and treatment targets for, social impairments in clinical populations.

BRAIN Funded Projects

Biomarker discovery for autism detection and treatment

Discovery of clinical biomarkers for improved detection and treatment of autism

Recent & Selected Publications

Talbot CF, Madrid JE, Del Rosso LA, Capitanio JP, Garner JP, Parker KJ. Rhesus monkey sociality is stable across time and linked to variation in the initiation but not receipt of prosocial behavior. Am J Primatol. 2022;84(12):e23442. doi:10.1002/ajp.23442 Read abstract

Parker KJ. Leveraging a translational research approach to drive diagnostic and treatment advances for autism. Mol Psychiatry. 2022;27(6):2650-2658. doi:10.1038/s41380-022-01532-8 Read abstract

Clarke L, Zyga O, Pineo-Cavanaugh PL, et al. Socio-behavioral dysfunction in disorders of hypothalamic-pituitary involvement: The potential role of disease-induced oxytocin and vasopressin signaling deficits. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2022;140:104770. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104770 Read abstract

Dr. Karen Parker’s presentation at BRAIN Synchrony Symposia

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