Christopher O'Donnell, PhD

  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Emerging Technologies in Health Sciences Education, Health Sciences
  • Executive Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Medicine
  • Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine
  • Professor of Cell Biology
  • School of Medicine

Christopher O’Donnell, PhD, is associate vice chancellor for emerging technologies in health sciences education. In this position, he leads the Office of Emerging Technologies in Health Sciences Education, which is dedicated to integrating and unifying multiple diverse digital technology learning initiatives across Pitt Health Sciences. The office keeps current and leverages the numerous learning opportunities that arise from advances in extended reality, simulation, open content, artificial intelligence, and many other forms of technology that are occurring at an unprecedented rate. Through a focus on learning technology, partnership, advocacy and coordination with existing efforts, the Office of Emerging Technologies in Health Sciences Education aims to make the Pitt Health Sciences education more integrated, accessible, and equitable.

Dr. O’Donnell joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine in 2004 and has been an active leader, researcher, and administrator since. As executive vice chair for academic affairs in the Department of Medicine, he has overseen a range of programs that encompass strategic planning, recruitment, space management, budget analytics, and funding and career development initiatives. He studies hypoxia, metabolism, and cardiorespiratory physiology, focusing on the pathogenesis and sequelae of sleep apnea.

In addition to his research, Dr. O’Donnell was appointed the chief operating officer for the Pitt COVID-19 Medical Response Office, helping to shepherd our institution through the uncharted waters of the pandemic.

Dr. O’Donnell began his career in academic medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine before joining Pitt’s faculty. Since 1996, he has been a principal investigator consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health and has published more than 100 original, peer-reviewed papers. He has held leadership roles with an NIH study section and editorial roles with the journals Obesity and the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Dr. O’Donnell received his physiology undergraduate degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand, graduating with first-class honors. He completed his doctorate focused on physiology at Cambridge University, followed by postdoctoral training in physiology at the University of California, San Francisco.