Karen L. O’Malley graduated with honors from California State University of Sonoma with a B.A. in Biology. She went on to earn a Masters of Science degree in biology from Portland State University in Oregon before earning a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas in Austin. After brief fellowship experiences at the University Of Texas in San Antonio with Dr. Michael Douglas and then at Cetus Palo Alto with Dr. Stanley Cohen, she trained with Dr. Lawrence Kedes and Jack Barchas at Stanford University Medical Center. There she developed a life-long interest in Dopaminergic systems. Subsequently, she joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology where she is currently Professor of Neurobiology. Initially, she focused on the structure and function of
catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes and receptors. These interests gradually evolved into current questions regarding how dopaminergic neurons die and how this process is affected by genes and toxins linked to Parkinson’s disease.