• Principal Investigator

    Molly Fox, Ph.D.

    Assistant professor

    Department of Anthropology

    Department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences


    Within the frameworks of evolutionary and developmental biology, my research focuses on maternal and grandmaternal transgenerational transmission of genes, phenotypes, life-history patterns, and disease risk. I synthesize information from molecular, clinical, epidemiological, and anthropological research towards understanding the evolutionary context of human health and disease, family and societal structure, and addressing global health challenges.


    Click here to link to my electronic CV

  • Development of the human infant microbiome and cognitive function

    The first year of life represents a sensitive period of development for both the intestinal ecosystem and the central nervous system. This project investigates how disturbance in the complex assembly of gut microbiota affects development of the brain. The gut and brain are physiologically linked in a bi-directional communication and control system. While a growing body of research implicates this ‘gut-brain axis’ in adult disease etiology, little is known about how the gut-brain axis functions in infant development.


    This project has been funded by two seed grants from the UCLA California Center for Population Research and DNA Genotek.


    Click on article title to download PDF


    Hanadi Ajam Oughli, Sarah Nguyen, Prabha Siddarth, Molly Fox, Michaela Milillo, Helen Lavretsky. (2022) The Effect of Cumulative Lifetime Estrogen Exposure on Cognition in Depressed versus Non-Depressed Older Women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Accepted.


    Molly Fox. Evolutionary Perspectives on Alzheimer’s Disease. (2022) In: Evolutionary Psychiatry: Current Perspectives on Evolution and Mental Health, edited by Dr Riadh Abed and Dr Paul St John-Smith. Cambridge University Press. [book chapter, in press]


    Molly Fox and Kyle S. Wiley. (2022) How a pregnant woman’s relationships with her siblings relate to her mental health: a prenatal allocare perspective. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. 10(1), 1–20, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoab044


    Molly Fox, Prabha Siddarth, Hanadi Ajam Oughli, Sarah A Nguyen, Michaela M Milillo, Yesenia Aguilar, Linda Ercoli, Helen Lavretsky. (2021) Women who breastfeed exhibit cognitive benefits after age 50. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. 9(1):322-31


    Molly Fox, S. Melanie Lee, Kyle S. Wiley, Venu Lagishetty, Curt A. Sandman, Jonathan P. Jacobs, Laura M. Glynn. (2021) Development of the infant gut microbiome predicts temperament across the first year of life. Development and Psychopathology. In press doi:10.1017/S0954579421000456


    Molly Fox. (2021) Discrimination as a moderator of the effects of acculturation and cultural values on mental health among pregnant and postpartum Latina women. American Anthropologist. 123(4), 780-804.


    Molly Fox, Delaney A. Knorr, Kacey M. Haptonstall (2019) Alzheimer’s Disease and symbiotic microbiota: an evolutionary perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.



    Molly Fox. (2018) ‘Evolutionary medicine' perspectives on Alzheimer's Disease: Review and new directions. Aging Research Reviews. 47 (2018) 140-148, doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2018.07.008



    Molly Fox, Carlo Berzuini, Leslie A. Knapp, Laura M. Glynn. (2018) Women's pregnancy life-history and Alzheimer's risk: can immunoregulation explain the link? American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias. doi: 10.1177/1533317518786447



    Laura M. Glynn*, Mariann A. Howland*, Molly Fox*. (2018) Maternal programming: Application of a developmental psychopathology perspective. Development and Psychopathology. 30 (2018), 905–919. http://bit.ly/maternalprogramming


    Molly Fox, Zaneta M. Thayer, Isabel F. Ramos, Sarah J. Meskal, Pathik D. Wadhwa. (2018). Prenatal and Postnatal Mother-to-Child Transmission of Acculturation’s Health Effects in Hispanic Americans. Journal of Women's Health. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6526. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2017.6526


    Molly Fox, Curt A. Sandman, Elysia Poggi Davis, Laura M. Glynn. (2018) A longitudinal study of women's depression symptom profiles during and after the postpartum phase. Depression and Anxiety. 2018:1–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22719


    Molly Fox, Zaneta Thayer, Pathik D. Wadhwa. (2017) Acculturation and Health: The Moderating Role of Sociocultural Context. American Anthropologist. 119(3): 405–421.



    Molly Fox, Laura M. Glynn. (2017) Fetal programming of gender. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Psychology and Gender. K Nadal, Ed. SAGE Publications, Inc.: Thousand Oaks. Link to Full Text


    Molly Fox, Zaneta Thayer, Pathik D. Wadhwa. (2017) Assessment of acculturation in minority health research. Social Science & Medicine. 176: 123-132.



    Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, Molly Fox, Laura Glynn. (2016) Demonstration of Elevated Cerebrospinal Fluid CRH Levels during Pregnancy Provides Support for (Not Against) the Link between CRH and Postpartum Depression. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 101(2):L5-6



    Molly Fox, Curt A. Sandman, Elysia Poggi Davis, Laura M. Glynn. (2015) Intra-individual consistency in endocrine profiles across successive pregnancies. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 100 (12): 4637-4647.



    Molly Fox, Sonja Entringer, Claudia Buss, Jessica DeHaene, Pathik Wadhwa. (2015) Intergenerational transmission of the effects of acculturation on health in Hispanic Americans: a fetal/developmental programming perspective. American Journal of Public Health. 105(S3): S409-S423.



    Paul W. Andrews, Kyowon R. Lee, Molly Fox, Aadil Bharwani, J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. (2014) Is serotonin an upper or a downer? The evolution of the serotonergic system and its role in
    depression and the antidepressant response. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 51, 164–188.



    Molly Fox, Carlo Berzuini, Leslie A. Knapp. (2013) Cumulative estrogen exposure, number of menstrual cycles, and Alzheimer's risk in a cohort of British women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 38(12), 2973–2982. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.005.



    Molly Fox, Corey L. Fincher, Paul W. Andrews, Leslie A. Knapp. (2013) Hygiene and the world distribution of Alzheimer’s Disease. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. doi: 10.1093/emph/eot015.



    Molly Fox, Carlo Berzuini, Leslie A. Knapp. (2013) Maternal breastfeeding history and Alzheimer’s risk. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 37 (4), 809-821. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130152



    Molly Fox, Johannes Johow, Leslie A. Knapp. (2011) The Selfish Grandma Gene: The Roles of the X- Chromosome and Paternity Uncertainty in the Evolution of Grandmothering Behavior and Longevity. International Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2011, Article ID 165919, 9 pages.



    Johannes Johow, Molly Fox, Leslie A. Knapp, Eckart Voland (2011). The presence of a paternal grandmother lengthens interbirth interval following the birth of a granddaughter in Krummhörn (18th and 19th centuries). Evolution and Human Behavior. 32 (5), 315-325.




    Molly Fox, Rebecca Sear, Jan Beise, Gillian Ragsdale, Eckart Voland, Leslie A. Knapp. (2010). Grandma plays favourites: X-chromosome relatedness and sex-specific childhood mortality. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1681), 567-573.


  • PhDs and Postdocs

    Delaney Knorr

    PhD student

    Delaney Knorr is exploring topics of women’s health and disease from an evolutionary perspective. Her focus centers on the immunological changes mounted during pregnancy, and the effect those changes have on the individual through their life-course and the subsequent generation.

    Kyle Wiley, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Kyle Wiley is an NIH F32 fellow funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).


    UCLA grad students

    Current members: Delaney Knorr, Davis Mai, Amanda Reshke, Emma Dixon, Adiba Hassan, Dayoon Kwon, Ingrid Cely, Hash Brown Taha

    Former members: Andrew Balayan, Valeria Vasquez, Kotrina Kojokaite, Jackelyn Moya, Kristine Chua, Lorena Espinoza, Nichole Evans, Andrew Mitchel, Kacey Peters, Ainsley Belisle, Michael Parrish


    UCLA undergrad students

    Current members: Desiree Eshraghi, Monica Gonzalez, Arlene Francia, Julissa Robles, Jennifer Cruz, Jackeline Barragán, Melanie Krahn, Sunny Xiao, Karina Acevedo, Joan Moci, Lexi Tempera, Owen Pogue

    Former members: Danielle Taylor, Alan Liang, Alexandria Lee, Kate Elliott, Melanie Fun, Emily Wang, Khoa Tran, Phuong Tran, Andrew Osgood, Sarah Meskal, Jenneffer Vazquez, Michelle Tenggara, Olivia Schulist, Waania Beg, Zoe Hull, Allison Lipschitz, Celeste Castro, Janelly Bernice, Katherine Najarro, Alex Tenorio, Cynthia Zarate, Armen Akopyan, Michelle Herrera, Michelle Silva, Gladys Bello, Megan Blatt, Allison Whang, Cate Remphrey, Bethany Ru, Jhoana Garcia, Paulina Salas, Janelly Jimenez, Samantha Garcia, Leticia Camacho, Paulina Salas, Briauna Archer, Valeria Rojas, Andy Estrada, Gladys Bello, Erin Hu, Megan Kirshner


    UC Irvine students, former: Itzel Garcia, Micaela Maciel, Valeria Calvillo, Elizabeth Flores


    Other schools + Postbac

    Former members: Andrea Ambor, Anthony Sanabria, Kristin Gasca, Allen Siegler, Maria Klingler; Julia Rothschild, Amberly Gangi, Julia Barnett, Tian Walker, Zenaida Flores, Coralia Guandique, Jessica Percic


    (MCE meeting)





  • Apply to get involved!

    Please get in touch by filling in the form below. I'm always looking for new ways to connect with colleagues and students! Are you interested in joining my lab as a research assistant or graduate student? I work with undergrads, gap year students, Masters students, and other graduate students (e.g. in medicine or other health sciences) as research assistants in the projects described above.


    RAs must commit to a minimum of 9-months with the lab. Please highlight any experience doing lab bench work that involves pipetting.


    If you are interested in applying the UCLA PhD program in Biological Anthropology to work with me as your primary mentor, I am particularly looking for graduate students interested Alzheimer's Disease, autoimmunity, biomechanisms of aging, pregnancy, placental physiology, lactation, mother-infant development, or any of the topics described on this website.