Laura E. Murray-Kolb

Educational Background

  • B.S., Premedicine at The Pennsylvania State University 1995
  • M.S., Nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University 1998
  • Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University 2003
  • Post-Doc, NIMH Fellow, Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University 2004 - 2006 

Dissertation Title

Iron Status, Cognitive Performance, and Behavioral Affect in Young Women

Awards & Honors

  • Nevin Scrimshaw Mid-Career Award in Global Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition 2019
  • Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition and Development, American Society for Nutrition 2016
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development 2013–2016
  • Outstanding Nutrition Alumni Award, Penn State Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society 2013
  • Johns Hopkins Faculty Innovation Award, Bloomberg School of Public Health 2008
  • The Dannon Institute’s Nutrition Leadership Institute 2007
  • Early Career Award, International Society on Infant Studies 2006

Activities & Memberships

  • Neurocognition Ideation Working Group, ILSI North America, Member, 2020–present
  • American Society for Nutrition, Award jury for the Nevin Scrimshaw Mid-Career Award in Global Nutrition, 2020
  • American Society for Nutrition, Abstract reviewer for Cellular and Physiological Nutrition/Metabolism and Global and Public Health Nutrition topic areas, 2020
  • Nutrition-Relevant Health System Indicators Working Group, The Power of Nutrition (London), Member, 2019–present
  • American Society for Nutrition, Invited Judge for the Postdoctoral Research Award Competition (PRAC), supported by the DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, 2019
  • PLoS ONE, Academic (Associate) Editor, Global Health and Nutrition Research, 2018–present
  • American Society for Nutrition, Award jury for the Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition and Development, 2017
  • American Society for Nutrition, Invited Judge for the Student Travel Awards Competition at Experimental Biology, supported by the National Dairy Council, 2017
  • Domain Expert, Healthy Birth, Growth, and Development Knowledge Integration, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2016–2018
  • Invited Member, International Union of Nutrition Sciences/Micronutrient Forum/NIH Joint Taskforce: Risk benefit analysis of iron supplementation in low-income settings, 2014–present
  • American Society for Nutrition Membership Committee: 2013–2017 (Chair, 2014–2017)
  • Journal of Nutrition Editorial Board, 2010–present
  • American Society for Nutrition: Member: 2003–present


The overarching aim of the Murray-Kolb Lab is to use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the functional consequences of micronutrient deficiencies. Specific interests include the relation of iron status to neuropsychological and neurophysiological outcomes in women and children and whether or not brain changes stemming from iron deficiency affect maternal/child interactions and child development. Longer terms goals include understanding the contextual variables that modify the effects of iron deficiency and the neural correlates of the neuropsychological changes seen with iron deficiency.

The Murray-Kolb Research Program targets iron deficiency as it is the most common nutrient deficiency globally and has been identified as a risk factor for the failure of 250 million children to reach their full cognitive potential. While it appears that iron supplementation would be an easy solution to this problem, as with most biological processes, the answer is not that simple. Iron deficiency coexists with many disadvantageous factors yet, the contextual variables that interact with iron deficiency are not well characterized, the specific neuropsychological and neurophysiological consequences of iron deficiency are not fully understood, and the long-term consequences of iron supplementation are underexplored. Furthermore, although women of childbearing age are among those most vulnerable to developing this deficiency and the group with the most direct impact on child development, little effort has been spent on understanding the functional consequences of iron deficiency in this age group. Research conducted in the Murray-Kolb Lab aims to fill in these gaps so that effective programs can be developed to combat iron deficiency and contribute to the improvement of maternal and child health worldwide.

Discovery Publications (most recent 3 years)

  • Pobee RA, Setorglo J, Klevor M, Murray-Kolb LE. The prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency among pregnant Ghanaian women. PLoS ONE (2021) 16(3):e0248754.
  • Ssentongo P, Hehnly C, Birungi P, Roach MA, Spady J, Fronterre C, Wang M, Murray-Kolb LE, Al-Shaar L, Chinchilli VM, Broach JR, Ericson JE, Schiff SJ. Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection epidemiology and burden in countries with universal screening. JAMA Network Open (In Press).
  • Richard SA, McCormick BJJ, Murray-Kolb LE, Bessong P, Shrestha SK, Mduma E, Ahmed T, Kang G, Lee GO, Seidman JC, Svensen E, Kosek MN, Caulfield LE. Influences on catch-up growth using relative versus absolute metrics: Evidence from the MAL-ED cohort study. BMC Public Health (In Press).
  • Richard SA, McCormick BJJ, Murray-Kolb LE, Chandyo RK, Patil C, Mahopo C, Maciel B, Bose A, Mahfuz M, Ambikapathi R, Olortegui MP, Caulfield LE; on behalf of the MAL-ED Network Investigators. Characteristics associated with the transition to partial breastfeeding prior to 6 months of age in children from the MAL-ED cohort study. Matern Child Nutr. (2021) e13166.
  • Neumann SN, Li J, Yuan X, Chen S, Ma C, Murray-Kolb LE, Han J, Wu S, Gao X. Anemia and insomnia: A cross-sectional study and meta-analysis. Chinese Medical Journal (2020) doi:10.1097/CM9.0000000000001306 (epub ahead of print).
  • Nicolaou L, Ahmed T, Bhutta ZA, Bessong P, Kosek MN, Lima A, Shrestha SK, Chandyo RK, Mduma E, Murray-Kolb LE, Morgan BW, Grigsby MR, Checkley W (on behalf of the MALED Network Investigators). Factors associated with head circumference and indices of cognitive development in early childhood. BMJ Glob Health (2020) 5(10):e003427.
  • Pasricha S, Gheorghe A, Sakr-Ashour F, Arcot A, Neufeld L, Murray-Kolb LE, Suchdev PS, Bode M. Net benefit and cost-effectiveness of universal iron-containing multiple micronutrient powders for young children in 78 countries: a microsimulation study. Lancet Glob Health (2020) 8:e1071-e1080.
  • McCormick BJJ, Caulfield LE, Richard SA, Pendergast L, Seidman JC, Maphula A, Koshy B, Blacy L, Roshan R, Nahar B, Shrestha R, Rasheed M, Svensen E, Rasmussen Z, Scharf RJ, Haque S, Oria R, Murray-Kolb LE. Early life experiences and trajectories of cognitive development. Pediatrics (2020) Aug 17:e20193660 (epub ahead of print).
  • Antiporta D, Ambikapathi R, Bose A, Maciel B, Mahopo TC, Patil C, Turab A, Olortegui MP, Islam M, Bauck A, McCormick BJJ, Caulfield LE; on behalf of MAL-ED Network Investigators. Micronutrient intake and the probability of nutrient adequacy among children 9-24 months of age: results from the MAL-ED birth cohort study. Public Health Nutr (2020) July 2:1-11 (epub ahead of print).
  • Pobee RA, Aguree S, Colecraft EK, Gernand AD, Murray-Kolb LE. Food insecurity and micronutrient status among Ghanaian women planning to become pregnant. Nutrients (2020) 12(2): 470; doi:10.3390/nu12020470.
  • Alam A, Richard SA, Fahim SM, Mahfuz M, Nahar B, Das S, Shrestha B, Koshy B, Mduma E, Seidman JC, Murray-Kolb LE, Caulfield LE, Lima AAM, Bessong P, Ahmed T. Impact of early-onset persistent stunting on cognitive development at 5 years of age: Results from a multi-country cohort study. PLoS ONE (2020) 15(1): e0227839.
  • Nahar B, Hossain M, Mahfuz M, Islam MM, Hossain MI, Murray-Kolb LE, Seidman JC, Ahmed T. Early childhood development and stunting: Findings from the MAL-ED birth cohort study in Bangladesh. Matern Child Nutr. (2020) 16(1): e12864.
  • Mahfuz M, Murray-Kolb LE, Hasna SMT, Das S, Fahim SM, Alam MA, Caulfield LE, Ahmed T. Why do children in slums suffer from anemia, iron, zinc and vitamin A deficiency? Results from a birth cohort study in Dhaka. Nutrients (2019) 11(12): 3025; doi:10.3390/nu11123025.
  • McCormick BJJ, Murray-Kolb LE, Lee GO, Schulze K, Ross AC, Bauck AD, Lima AAM, Maciel BLL, Kosek MN, Seidman JC, Ambikapathi R, Bose A, John S, Kang G, Turab A, Mduma E, Bessong P,Shrekstha SK, Ahmed T, Olortegui MP, Mahfuz M, Butta Z, Caulfield LE. Intestinal permeability and inflammation mediate the association between nutrient density of complementary foods and biochemical measures of micronutrient status in young children: results from the MAL-ED study. Am J Clin Nutr. (2019) 110:1015-1025.
  • Gernand AD, Aguree SS, Pobee R, Colecraft EK, Murray-Kolb LE. Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies are low and micronutrient status is not related to common health indicators in Ghanaian women expecting to become pregnant. Curr Dev Nutr. (2019) 3:nzz053.
  • McCormick BJJ, Richard SR, Caulfield LE, Pendergast L, Seidman JC, Koshy B, Roshan R, Shrestha R, Svensen E, Blacy L, Rasmussen Z, Maphula A, Scharf R, Nahar B, Haque S, Rasheed M, Oria R, Rogawski ET, Murray-Kolb LE. Early life child micronutrient status, maternal reasoning and a nurturing household environment have persistent influences on child cognitive development at age 5 years: Results from MAL-ED. J Nutr. (2019) 149:1460-1469.
  • Richard SA, McCormick BJJ, Murray-Kolb LE, Lee GO, Seidman JC, Mahfuz M, Ahmed T, Guerrant RL, Petri Jr WA, Rogawski ET, Houpt E, Kang G, Mduma E, Kosek MN, Lima AM, Shrestha SK, Chandyo RK, Bhutta Z, Bessong P, Caulfield LE. Enteric dysfunction and other factors associated with attained size at 5 years: MAL-ED birth cohort study findings. Am J Clin Nutr. (2019) 110:131-138.
  • Wenger MJ, Rhoten SE, Murray-Kolb LE, Scott SP, Boy E, Gahutu JB, Haas JD. Changes in iron status are related to changes in brain activity and behavior in Rwandan female university students: Results from a randomized controlled efficacy trial involving iron-biofortified beans. J Nutr. (2019) 149:687-697.
  • Ruan-Iu L, Pendergast LL, Rasheed M, Tofail F, Svensen E, Maphula A, Roshan R, Nahar B, Shrestha R, Williams B, Schaefer B, Scharf R, Caulfield LE, Seidman J, Murray-Kolb LE. Assessing early childhood fluid reasoning in low- and middle-income nations: Validity of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence across seven MAL-ED sites. J Psychoeduc Assess. (2019) doi:10.1177/0734282919850040.
  • Petkus DL, Murray-Kolb LE, Scott SP, Southmayd EA, De Souza MJ. Iron status at opposite ends of the menstrual function spectrum. J Trace Elem Med Biol. (2019) 51:169-175.
  • Wenger MJ, DellaValle D, Murray-Kolb LE, Haas JD. Effect of iron deficiency on simultaneous measures of behavior, brain activity, and energy expenditure in the performance of a cognitive task. Nutr Neurosci. (2019) 22:196-206.

Books, Chapters & Monograph Publications (most recent 3 years)

  • Murray-Kolb LE and Arcot A. An overview of the functional significance of iron deficiency (cognitive, behavioral). In Nutritional Anemia, 2nd edition. Edited by Crystal D Karakochuk, Michael B Zimmermann, Diego Moretti, and Klaus Kraemer. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company (2021).

Laura Murray-Kolb

Professor and Head

Office: STON 214
Phone: 765.496.3570
Fax: 765.494.0674

Department of Nutrition Science, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059 (765) 494-8228, Fax: (765) 494-0674

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