Mary McEniry

Position title: Honorary Fellow/Senior Scientist, University of Wisconsin–Madison


Phone: 608-263-4609


I am a demographer and researcher in the field of aging. My primary research interests focus on understanding the long-term consequences of early life conditions on older adult health and mortality in low- and middle-income countries. This includes examining SES health disparities and multi-generational effects of early life conditions on health.

Understanding the relevance of early life nutrition and epigenetics for older adult health is a topic of growing interest among demographers and social scientists. These topics are also beginning to be noticed in middle-income countries as they carry out large comprehensive surveys of older adults. With funding from the Fulbright Commission in Colombia, South America, I organized a one-day seminar on March 1, 2019 in Manizales, Colombia on “Environment, genetics and the health of older adult Colombians.” The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of the research that I had carried out in Colombia as a US Fulbright Scholar and to highlight the potential importance of early life conditions and epigenetics in relation to older adult health. Nine presenters gave diverse presentations on the topic incorporating both biological and social science perspectives. The seminar attracted a large attendance of over 300 medical professionals, gerontologists and community members, reflecting the growing interest in the topic in Colombia.

CDE research theme area affiliations

Health and the Life Course; Biodemography; Demography of Inequality

Selected Publications

Huangfu, Y,  Palloni, A., Beltrán-Sánchez, H.,  McEniry, M.C.  “Gene-environment interactions and the case of body mass index and obesity: How much do they matter?”   PNAS Nexus. 2023 Jul 11;2(7):pgad213. doi: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad213.  eCollection 2023 Jul.  PMID: 37441616 PMCID: PMC10335730.

Garcia, C., Garcia, M., McEniry, M., Crowe, M. “The Neighborhood context and all-cause mortality among older adults in Puerto Rico.” Frontiers in Public Health, section Life-Course Epidemiology and Social Inequalities in Health. Volume 11 – 2023 | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.995529.

Beltrán-Sánchez, H., Palloni, A. Huangfu, Y, McEniry, M. “Modeling biological age and its link with the aging process.” PNAS Nexus, Volume 1, Issue 3, July 2022, pgac135,

Beltrán-Sánchez, H., Palloni, A. Huangfu, Y, McEniry, M. “Population-level impact of adverse early life conditions on adult healthy life expectancy in low- and middle-income countries.” Popul Stud (Camb). 2022 Mar;76(1):19-36. PMID: 34110269 PMCID: PMC8660937.  doi: 10.1080/00324728.2021.1933149. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Palloni, A., McEniry, M., Huangfu, Y., Beltran-Sanchez, H. 2020. “Impacts of the 1918 flu on survivors’ nutritional status: a double quasi-natural experiment”, Plus One, 15(10): e0232805.

McEniry, M., Samper-Ternent, R., and Carlos Cano-Gutierrez, C.. “Displacement Due to Armed Conflict and Violence in Childhood and Adulthood and Its Effects on older Adult Health: The Case of the Middle-Income Country of Colombia.” SSM – Population Health 7 (2019): 100369.

McEniry, M., Samper-Ternent, R., Flórez, C.E, Pardo, R., and Cano-Gutierrez, C. “Patterns of SES Health Disparities among Older Adults in Three Upper Middle Income Countries and Two High-Income Countries.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences (2018): online first. PubMed Central ID 29684199.

McEniry, M., Samper-Ternent, R., Flórez, C. E., and Cano-Gutierrez, C. “Early Life Displacement Due to Armed Conflict and Violence, Early Nutrition, and Older Adult Hypertension, Diabetes, and Obesity in the Middle-Income Country of Colombia.” Journal of Aging and Health (2018): online first. PubMed Central ID 29916766.

McEniry, M., and McDermott, J. “Early Life Conditions, Rapid Demographic Changes and Older Adult Health in the Developing World.” Biodemography & Social Biology (2015) 61:2, 147-166. PubMed Central ID 4559852.

Grol-Prokopczyk, H., Verdes-Tennant, E., McEniry, M., and Ispány, M. “The Promises and Pitfalls of Anchoring Vignettes in Health Survey Research.” Demography (2015) 52:1703-1728. PubMed Central ID 26335547.

McEniry, M. Early Life Conditions and Rapid Demographic Changes in the Developing World. Dordrecht: Springer (2014).

McEniry, M. 2014. “Cross National Comparisons across Low, Middle and High Income Countries of Poor Early Life Nutrition and Diet and Older Adult Diabetes and Heart Disease.”  In Cairo+20: perspectivas da agenda de população e desenvolvimento sustentável pós-2014, ed. by Laura Rodríguez Wong, José Eustáquio Alves, Jorge Rodríguez Vignoli, and Cássio MaldonadoTurra. Rio de Janeiro: ALAP (2014).

McEniry, M.  2013. “Early Life Conditions and Older Adult Health in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Review.”  Journal of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (2013) 4: 10-29. PubMed Central ID 3540412.