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Extramural Research

Presenter Biosketches

Phil Brown Phil Brown
Hospitals for a Healthy Environment

Phil Brown is University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston. He has published widely in environmental sociology and environmental health, including his most recent book, “Contested Illnesses: Citizens, Science, and Health Social Movements.” He has extensive experience in research ethics through his role in the NIH-funded Collaborative Initiative for Research Ethics and Environmental Health and the NSF-funded Northeast Ethics Education Project. He was on the planning committee for the 2012 annual grantees meeting of the Children’s Environmental Health Centers. Under contract to Northeastern, Dr. Brown continues as Director of the Brown Superfund Research Program Community Engagement Core and co-Director of its Research Translation Core. Currently, Dr. Brown directs the Community Outreach and Translation Core of Brown’s Children’s Environmental Health Center (P20) , and serves on its Internal Advisory Committee, also under subcontract to Northeastern. As Director of Northeastern’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, he trains faculty, graduate students, and postdocs in interdisciplinary environmental health research, and many of them are involved in CEHC activities.


Alyssa Creighton Alyssa Creighton
Engaging Community Partners for Effective Development of Outreach Strategies

Alyssa Creighton received her Master of Public Health in environmental health policy from Columbia University. She is the Program Coordinator for the Community Outreach and Translation Core at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. Her work includes collaborating with community partners, building educational materials and translating the findings of the Center’s researchers. Previous experience includes leading community asthma education workshops.


Monique DePaepe Monique DePaepe
Human Fetal Lung Xenograft as Model of Antenatal Arsenic Exposure

Our research focuses on the regulation of alveolar remodeling in normal and pathological lung development. We are particularly interested in deciphering the role and regulation of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and angiogenesis (microvascular development) in alveolarization. We anticipate that these studies will contribute to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease of preterm infants characterized by arrested alveolar development


Dana C. Dolinoy Dana C. Dolinoy, Ph.D.
Early Exposure to Bisphenol A and Lead: Effects on Metabolic Homeostasis and the Epigenome

Dr. Dolinoy serves as the John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health (UM SPH). Dr. Dolinoy leads the Environmental Epigenetics and Nutrition Laboratory, which investigates how nutritional and environmental factors interact with epigenetic gene regulation to shape health and disease. Her laboratory is using state-of-the-art technology to investigate the role of early exposures on epigenomic profiles in the mouse and human in order to identify species, dose, and tissue specific alterations in DNA methylation and histone profiles associated with metabolic disorders later-in-life. Dr. Dolinoy serves as an investigator in the EPA/NIEHS-funded Formative Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center (P20 ES018171-01/RD834800) on perinatal exposures, epigenetics, child obesity & sexual maturation, investigating early exposure to BPA, lead, and phthalates, epigenetics, and later-in-life body weight and hormone outcomes. She also plays a leadership role in UM’s NIEHS P30 Core Center, Lifestage Exposures and Adult Diseases (P30 ES017885), and serves as a member of the Children’s Working Initiative of the University of Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Clinical and Translational Science Award.


Faustman Elaine Faustman, Ph.D.
Lessons From the University of Washington's Center for Children's Environmental Health Risks Research—Integrating Susceptibility Factors and Metabolomics for Multiple Exposure Assessment

Dr. Faustman is Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and Director of the Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication. She is Co-PI of the NIEHS and NSF funded Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies at UW and Director of the Reproductive and Developmental Research Core of the UW Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health.


Clement E. Furlong Clement E. Furlong, Ph.D.
Updates on PON1 Polymorphisms: The Role of Sensitivity Factors and New Adduct Work

Dr. Clement E. Furlong is Professor of Medical Genetics and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Furlong is investigating the functional genomics of the polymorphic, HDL-associated enzyme human serum paraoxonase (PON1). The main known physiological function of this protein is to metabolize toxic oxidized lipids and protect against vascular disease, but PON1 also is important in detoxifying organophosphorus insecticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, which are bioactivated to highly toxic oxon forms by the cytochrome P450 systems. The toxic oxons are potent inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase, necessary for functioning of the nervous system, and are hydrolyzed by PON1, which exhibits a substrate-dependent polymorphism in human populations. At least two allelic forms of the enzyme have been observed, one (PON1R192) that hydrolyzes chlorpyrifos oxon (the toxic metabolite of chlorpyrifos or Dursban®) with a high catalytic efficiency, and the other (PON1Q192) with a lower catalytic efficiency. Both alloforms detoxify diazoxon (the active metabolite of diazinon) with equal efficiency. PON1 also appears to play an important role in metabolizing toxic oxidized lipids, and recent studies have reported that the R192 variant is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Dr. Furlong, working with Dr. Gail Jarvik, has shown that low PON1 levels are a risk factor for carotid artery disease as well. Functions of two related proteins, PON2 and PON3, also are being investigated. Dr. Furlong has been an active investigator at the University of Washington's Center for Children's Environmental Health Risks Research for about 15 years. His research has defined genetic, functional and lifestage considerations for PON1 in mothers and children.


Harley Kim Harley, Ph.D.
Bisphenol A and Children’s Health: Results from the CHAMACOS Study

Kim Harley, Ph.D. is an Associate Adjunct Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist whose research focuses on the association between endocrine disrupting chemicals and child development, including neurodevelopment, obesity, and onset of puberty. Her work has focused on the reproductive and developmental effects of Bisphenol A, PBDEs, DDT, and organophosphate pesticides. Dr. Harley has spent several years investigating the effects of environmental chemical exposures to mothers and children living in a migrant farm worker community. She is an Associate Director of the CHAMACOS Study, a longitudinal cohort study of Latina mothers and children living in the agricultural Salinas Valley, California. Children in the CHAMACOS study have been followed from before birth until 12 years of age to determine the impact of environmental exposures on their growth, neurodevelopment, and health. Dr. Harley is the principal investigator of grant to examine the role of early life BPA exposure on children's health and development in this cohort.


Janice Juraska Janice Juraska
A Rat Model of Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure During Early Development on Cognitive Behavior and Cortical Neuroanatomy During Adulthood

Janice Juraska is a Professor of Psychology and Program in Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. She is interested in the neuroanatomical development and plasticity of the nervous system in animal models. Janice has extensive experience with the role of gonadal hormones during the development of the cerebral cortex and behavior, as well as the influence of ovarian hormones during aging. She is currently working on the effects of BPA exposure during development and during adolescence as part of a Formative Children’s Environmental Health Research Center (P20) funded jointly by NIEHS and US EPA.


Amy Kyle Amy D. Kyle, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Aligning the Planets: Working with Networks to Achieve Structural Change

Dr. Kyle holds research and teaching appointments in the Environmental Health Sciences Division at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley and is a co-investigator of the BCEPHT, a co-investigator on a multi-year project to develop measures reflecting children's environmental health, and director of the research translation core for the UC Berkeley Superfund Basic Research Program. Early in her career, she spent 13 years in public service in environmental protection, natural resources management, and public health and retains a keen interest in improving public health practice. Her research currently focuses on translation of scientific results for policy and stakeholder audiences; development of methods to represent multiple exposures and multiple effects; approaches to integrate expert and lay views into analytic-deliberative processes relevant to policy discussions with technical elements; policy approaches relevant to persistent pollutants; and children's environmental health. She teaches graduate students in environmental health science disciplines about the role of science, as well as other factors, in policy and how to communicate with non-technical audiences. She works with a variety of non-governmental and public interest organizations and serves on the California Breast Cancer Research Council, the board of counselors for the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association, and the Committee on Emerging Contaminants of the National Academy of Sciences.


Andrew Liu Andrew H. Liu, MD
Everyday Exposures to Bacterial Endotoxins and Asthma in Children

Andrew H. Liu, M.D., is the Training Program Director and an Associate Professor in Pediatric Allergy & Immunology at the National Jewish Medical & Research Center and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. He serves as the Pediatric Asthma & Allergy Consultant to the Health & Hospitals System for the City & county of Denver. In addition, he runs teaching clinics at National Jewish, Denver Health, and The Children’s Hospital of Denver. Dr. Liu researches the immune development underlying asthma and allergies in young children, seeking early intervention strategies for therapy and prevention. He is an investigator for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in several research programs in this field. These include a recent NIH Career Development Awards on “Endotoxin and Asthma Prevention in Young Children,” and several NIH-funded intervention studies for childhood asthma: Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP); Childhood Asthma Prevention Study (CAPS); and Prevention of Early Asthma in Kids study (PEAK). Dr. Liu has written articles for such peer-reviewed journals as The Lancet, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the American Association of Immunologists. Dr. Liu received his medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and completed his Internship and Residency in Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He completed his Fellowships in Allergy & Immunology and in Clinical & Laboratory Immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.


Daniel Madrigal Daniel S. Madrigal
Engaging Children and Adolescents in Environmental Health Research

Mr. Madrigal is the community outreach coordinator for the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH). Part of the Center’s work is on the environmental hazards to the Latino farmworker community in the Salinas Valley, California. The keystone project of CERCH in this community is CHAMACOS, a longitudinal birth cohort study. Mr. Madrigal coordinates various strategies to share study findings with participants, local community members, and policy makers as well as activities to increase awareness and knowledge about children’s environmental health among low income Latino communities statewide. Additionally, Mr. Madrigal acts as a liaison to communicate community needs and priorities with study researchers. Community engagement and outreach strategies have included: a community advisory board, a farmworker council, a grower council, community forums, health education presentations, puppet shows for children, a youth empowerment group, a prenatal environmental health kiosk, and a robust web presence. He holds an MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and has previous experience as a health educator in similar communities.


Judit Marsillach Judit Marsillach, Ph.D.
Updates on PON1 Polymorphisms: The Role of Sensitivity Factors and New Adduct Work

Dr. Judit Marsillach is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Her doctoral research was focused on the study of the enzyme paraoxonase-1 (PON1) and its role in inflammation and oxidative stress. PON1 is an enzyme synthesized by the liver and found in blood tightly bound to high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Her postdoctoral research is focused on the study of biomarkers of exposure to organophosphorus (OP) pesticides and the study of PON1 and its interaction with HDL. Although PON1 previously was thought to reside only in HDL, reports by Dr. Marsillach indicate that HDL serves to carry PON1 to different tissue compartments throughout the body. Dr. Marsillach has successfully developed rapid immunomagnetic bead protocols coupled to high–resolution mass spectrometry for characterizing biomarker proteins that are modified by OP exposure, including butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and acylpeptide hydrolase (APH). She currently is working on the use of dried blood spots for detecting OP exposures, greatly simplifying the collection, shipment and archiving of exposed blood samples.


Carmen Marsit Carmen J Marsit, Ph.D.
Placental Epigenetic Biomarkers of Exposure and Health

The broad goal of Dr. Marsit's research program is to investigate gene environment interactions and their individual and combined impact on human disease, with a particular focus on the impact of the environment and lifestyle on the character of the human epigenome. His research has focused on two distinct, yet highly related biologic processes, that of environmental carcinogenesis and that of human development. In those settings, Dr. Marsit's laboratory studies how epigenetic mechanisms and their alterations are responsible, in a significant part, for cancer, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and common and rare diseases of childhood including behavioral disorders. The laboratory focuses on DNA methylation and miRNA expression as our key epigenetic mechanisms of interest.

This research aims to provide a sound molecular basis for the emerging paradigm that there are fetal origins to much of adult health and disease. Dr. Marsit's laboratory utilizes modern molecular biology and genetics applied in the setting of epidemiologic studies to study the effects of the environment on multiple facets of epigenetic regulation, and thereby is creating a novel interdisciplinary approach to understanding the pathogenesis of human disease. Paramount to meeting these objectives is creating a collaborative and multidisciplinary team of clinicians, epidemiologists, biologists, and statisticians who, by working together, are committed to combining efforts to reach these goals.


Elizabeth Matsui Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., M.H.S.
Rethinking the Role of Indoor Allergens in Inner-City Asthma

Dr. Matsui obtained her undergraduate and medical degrees from Vanderbilt University and went on to complete her pediatric residency at University of California at San Francisco in 1996.

After completing her residency, she spent several years practicing general pediatrics in Seattle, WA, and Baltimore. During this time, she developed an interest in asthma and allergies and subsequently began subspecialty training in Pediatric Allergy/Immunology at Johns Hopkins.

After completing her fellowship training in 2003, she joined the faculty in our division and since that time has built a research program that focuses on examining the impact of allergen exposure on allergic disease. In addition to directing this research program, she also sees patients with a variety of allergic problems, including asthma, hay fever, food allergies, and eczema.


Rob S McConnell Rob S McConnell
Urban Air Pollution and Childhood Asthma: Burden of Disease

Rob S. McConnell is Professor of Preventive Medicine and Deputy Director of the NIEHS/EPA-supported Children's Environmental Health Center. His research interests include effects of air pollution on the development and exacerbation of asthma, and he is the principal investigator of a large prospective cohort study in the Children's USC Health Study to investigate these relationships. His work examining the associations between ozone and fresh traffic emissions with the development of asthma has contributed to the current policy debate on proper regulation of these exposures. Dr. McConnell is also interested in the effects of psychosocial stress and other social characteristics on asthma and on the application of new biomarkers of exposure to air pollutants in population based studies. He teaches the survey course on environmental health in the USC Masters of Public Health program.


John Meeker John Meeker
Do Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Affect the Tempo of Maturation and Development of Obesity in Adolescence?

Dr. John Meeker is Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He holds a B.S. in Industrial Technology from Iowa State University, as well as M.S. and Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degrees in Environmental Science & Engineering and Exposure, Epidemiology & Risk, respectively, from Harvard University, where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Environmental and Reproductive Epidemiology. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Dr. Meeker's work is wide-ranging, and focuses on defining sources, magnitudes and consequences of human exposure to environmental and occupational contaminants, as well as identifying and evaluating strategies to control harmful exposures. Much of his current research involves human exposure science and reproductive and developmental epidemiology studies of known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, BPA, pesticides, flame retardants, and others. Dr. Meeker is principal investigator on numerous large-scale research studies, is Associate Editor of Environmental Health Perspectives, and has served on numerous peer-review and advisory panels for EPA, NIH, and others in recent years. Dr. Meeker serves as an investigator of the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at the University of Michigan: “Lifecourse Exposures & Diet: Epigenetics, Maturation & Metabolic Syndrome.”


Marie Lynn Miranda Marie Lynn Miranda, Ph.D.
Of Mice and Moms: Environment, Social Stressors and Disparities in Birth Outcomes

Marie Lynn Miranda, Ph.D., is Professor and Dean in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. In addition to her administrative leadership responsibilities, Dr. Miranda directs the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI), which is a research, education, and outreach program committed to fostering environments where all people can prosper. CEHI emphasizes the environmental health sciences and social justice components of risks borne by children in the United States and internationally. CEHI runs geospatial training programs both at the University of Michigan and nationally. CEHI is also leading a significant effort in developing geospatial informatics to support health care delivery and improvements in population health. Dr. Miranda maintains a deep and abiding personal and professional interest in social and environmental justice.


Rachel Miller, MD Rachel Miller, M.D.
The Epigenome and Asthma: Interactions Between Imprinted Genes and Environmental Exposures

Dr. Miller is the Associate Professor of Medicine (in Pediatrics) and Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. She is the Director of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program. She also is Co-Deputy Director, Asthma Project Director for the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health and the Associate Director and Lead Physician Scientist, Disease Investigation through Specialized Clinically-Oriented Ventures in Environment Research (DISCOVER) initiative sponsored by NIEHS. Her research focuses on understanding the causes of asthma.


Kari Nadeau Kari Nadeau
Mechanistic Studies on the Link Between Epigenetic Modifications in Candidate Genes and Allergy/Asthma

Dr. Kari Nadeau is Associate Professor of Pediatrics—Immunology and Allergy, and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Haverford College, an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Biochemistry. The goal of the research in Dr. Nadeau's laboratory at Stanford is to investigate the role of ambient air exposure on the developing immune system in children, with a focus on understanding the interaction between environment and the immune system by studying detailed mechanistic studies in T cells. Dr. Nadeau has a broad background in immunology, with specific training and expertise in key research areas on T cells. She is working with Drs. Katharine Hammond and Ira Tager at the University of California, Berkeley, to link mechanistic immunology studies with epidemiological outcomes of ambient air pollution exposure. Dr. Nadeau has published more than 71 peer-reviewed papers, many of which focus on T cells and health outcomes.


Amy Padula Amy Padula
Traffic-related Air Pollution, Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Risk of Preterm Birth in the San Joaquin Valley of California

Amy Padula is a post-doctoral fellow in Pediatrics-Neonatology at Stanford University. She works with the Shaw/Carmichael research group on the Berkeley-Stanford Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study. Her research focuses on the effects of air pollution during pregnancy on adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight and birth defects. She is also involved with related projects on pulmonary function, social factors and causal inference statistical methods. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.


Isaac N. Pessah Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D.

Dr. Pessah obtained his B.S. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University (1977) and his Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Maryland in 1984. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley from 1984 to 1987, during which time he discovered a family of calcium channels termed ryanodine receptors. Since then, his research and academic interests have spanned the broad area of molecular and cellular mechanisms by which these channels regulate Ca2+ signaling in muscle, neurons and immune cells. He studies the organization and function of the macromolecular complexes regulating ryanodine-sensitive Ca2+ channels and how environmental chemicals, including PCBs, PBDEs, reactive quinone metabolites, pesticides and heavy metals influence developmental toxicity through these complexes. Members of his laboratory have been studying gene-environment interactions influencing susceptibility that are relevant to autism and related disorders using mice possessing missense mutations known to contribute susceptibility to human disease. He directs the UC Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention. The Center is an NIEHS/US EPA funded multidisciplinary program aimed at understanding how environmental factors influence autism risk and severity. He is Professor of Toxicology and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. In addition, he is Associate Editor of NeuroToxicology, and a Board Reviewer for Environmental Health Perspectives, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Neurotoxicology and Teratology.


Karen E. Peterson, Sc.D. Karen E. Peterson, Sc.D.
Do Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Affect the Tempo of Maturation and Development of Obesity in Adolescence?

Dr. Peterson is Professor and Director of the Human Nutrition Program, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Research Professor, Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. Trained as a nutritionist, her research focuses on the influence of adverse exposures on child growth and maturation during sensitive developmental periods and the potential mediating influence of dietary quality and lifestyle behaviors on exposure-outcome associations in multi-ethnic, low income populations in the US and Latin America. She has conducted extensive research on the epidemiology and evaluation of population-based interventions addressing child obesity. Dr. Peterson is the contact PI for the University of Michigan’s Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center: “Lifecourse exposures & diet: Epigenetics, maturation & metabolic syndrome,” serves as Associate Director of the University of Michigan Nutrition and Obesity Research Center, and directs the Nutrition Assessment Laboratory of the Exposure Core of the UM Environmental Health Science Core Center: “Lifestage exposures and adult disease.”


Stephen M. Rappaport Stephen M. Rappaport, Ph.D.
Using Newborn Dried Blood Spots to Estimate in utero Exposures to Chemicals

Stephen Rappaport is Professor of Environmental Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Center for Exposure Biology, a multidisciplinary program to develop a new generation of biomarkers and biosensors for environmental epidemiology. He is a pioneer in the emerging field of ‘Exposure Biology’ and a prominent advocate of the concept of the ‘Exposome’ for environmental health. Much of his current research involves the development and application of blood protein adducts as biomarkers of exposure to toxic chemicals arising from inhalation, ingestion, and endogenous processes. He has also used environmental measurements and biomarkers to elucidate the human metabolism of several toxic chemicals, notably benzene, and to quantify interindividual variability in biomarker levels due to genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.


Andrew Rundle Andrew G. Rundle, Ph.D.

Dr. Andrew Rundle's research focuses on physical activity and body weight with a primary interest in whether sedentary lifestyles and overweight/obesity are risk factors for cancer development. This work includes investigations of the determinants of physical activity and body weight, creating new methods to measure physical activity, molecular epidemiologic investigations of mechanisms through which physical activity may prevent cancer, and studies of associations between activity and cancer incidence. Dr. Rundle also is involved in a project investigating whether environmental exposures cause prostate cancer. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at the Mailman School, which include the Environmental Epidemiology and Molecular Epidemiology courses, he lectures at the School of Social Work and teaches epidemiology to journalism students at NYU. Dr. Rundle also is involved with IARC's international training workshops on Molecular Epidemiology.


Rebecca Schmidt, Ph.D. Rebecca Schmidt, Ph.D.
Nutrition and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Importance and Potential Mechanisms

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California – Davis, School of Medicine. Her research goal is to advance understanding of how environmental exposures, primarily those occurring during gestation, interact with genetic susceptibility to influence neurodevelopmental outcomes for children, and more broadly, reproductive health and child development. As a molecular epidemiologist, she tends to approach epidemiologic research from a mechanistic and pathways perspective. Dr. Schmidt has over 10 years of experience in epidemiological research that began at the University of Iowa College of Public Health with her dissertation that examined gene by environment interactions as risk factors for congenital malformations, including neural tube defects. She expanded this research to other neurodevelopmental outcomes as a postdoctoral fellow in the 2-year Autism Research Training Program (ARTP) at the MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute as part of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department of the UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento. In 2010, she became a faculty member of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, the UC Davis Graduate Group for Epidemiology, and the MIND Institute. She teaches a course on Molecular Epidemiology and co-teaches Reproductive Epidemiology. Her research has focused largely on interaction effects between maternal nutrition and the genome in relation to autism spectrum disorders, potentially through epigenetic mechanisms. In work recognized as among the most important in 2011 by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Dr. Schmidt and her colleagues were the first to identify a significant association between an easily modifiable factor, periconceptional prenatal vitamin intake, and reduced risk for autism spectrum disorders. In addition, they were among the first to report significant gene-by-environment interaction effects for autism, providing a potential explanation for the variation in findings across autism genetics studies. Future research will explore mechanisms behind observed interactions, including epigenetic effects, and will expand studies of interactions in the context of autism etiology, with the goal of identifying pathways for prevention and intervention.


Marissa Smith Marissa Smith, M.S.
Nonchemical Stressors: Psychosocial Stress Assessment in the University of Washington Children's Center

Marissa N. Smith is a research scientist in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington (UW). She earned an M.S. in Toxicology from the UW in 2012. Her research interests include stress, biokinetic modeling, and maternal and child health as well as oceans and human health. As a graduate student, Ms. Smith was awarded a traineeship from the UW Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health. Much of her current research centers on interdisciplinary approaches for translational science related to oceans and human health and children's environmental health. A key focus of her projects is the interaction between genes and the environment.


Patrice Sutton Patrice Sutton, MPH
The Role of Health Professionals in Prevention

Patrice Sutton is a Research Scientist and is spearheading PRHE's clinical outreach and translation efforts. Patrice has over 20 years of experience in occupational and environmental health research, industrial hygiene, public health practice, policy development and community-based advocacy. As a contractor to California's state health department from 1987 to 2006, she was responsible for conducting all aspects of research investigations spanning a disparate range of issues, including lead poisoning, tuberculosis, asthma, and pesticide-illness. She has extensive experience collaborating with directly-impacted workplace and community-based populations, labor, and governmental and non-governmental organizations in the development of research strategies and policy recommendations. She also has extensive experience as a volunteer in support of communities and workers impacted by the nuclear weapons production cycle and has published over thirty peer-reviewed scientific articles and government technical reports.


Judy Van de Water Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.
Maternal Autoantibodies in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Dr. Van de Water joined the faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis in 1999.  In 2000, she also joined the faculty of the newly formed UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute when she began her research on the immunobiology of autism.  Dr. Van de Water’s laboratory pursues research programs pertaining to autoimmune and clinical immune-based disorders including the biological aspects of autism spectrum disorders.  The application of Dr. Van de Water’s immunopathology background has been instrumental in the dissection of the immune anomalies noted in some individuals with autism, and in the differentiation of various autism behavioral phenotypes at a biological level.  Dr. Van de Water is currently the Director of the NIEHS funded Center for Children’s Environmental Health at UC Davis, investigating potential environmental risk factors contributing to the incidence and severity of childhood autism. In addition, Dr. Van de Water’s work is also part of a comprehensive and multidiscipline analysis known as the Autism Phenome Project (APP).  Prior to working in autism spectrum disorder research, Dr. Van de Water’s research interests were focused on the immunopathologic mechanisms associated with the autoimmune liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis.

Dr. Van de Water is the recipient of the Slifka-Ritvo IMFAR Innovative Basic Science research award for her contribution to autism research, and the McGovern Research Award for significant impact in the health field.

Dr. Van de Water holds both a B.S. in Biologic Sciences, and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California at Davis.


Joseph Wiemels, Ph.D. Joseph Wiemels, Ph.D.
DNA Methylation Changes in Blood Cells that Impact Leukemia – Role of Environment

Dr. Joseph Wiemels is a professor of epidemiology at University of California, San Francisco. After completing his undergraduate degree in biology at Kenyon College, Ohio, he served in the Peace Corps teaching science subjects in the South Pacific. Dr. Wiemels received a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences/Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley, with minors in epidemiology and nucleic acid chemistry, in 1997. Dr. Wiemels joined a large pediatric leukemia epidemiology study as a postdoc in London, UK, before returning to California and taking up a position at UCSF in 2000.

Dr. Wiemels is committed to studying the epidemiology of childhood cancers with a focus on biology and natural history of the diseases. He has worked on tracing back the genetic and epigenetic origins of cancer, particularly childhood leukemia, and exploring the relationship of the host immune system and cancer in an epidemiologic fashion. His goal is to understand the biological mediators between genetic and environmental risk factors and disease, and how the immune system can detect and interact with cancers. Current projects include a genome wide association study of childhood leukemia and proposed GWAS in pediatric glioma, a large scale environmental risk factor and neonatal DNA methylation study, investigations into the role of autoantibodies in brain and other cancers, and the mechanisms behind allergies and Varicella virus-associations in brain cancers. Continued progress on all fronts will only be made through a combination of the best biology and epidemiology, and the shared worldwide resources and collaboration between investigators with disparate fields of interest.


Woodruff Tracey Woodruff
Maternal and Fetal Exposures to BPA During Mid-Gestation

Dr. Woodruff is Associate Professor and the Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at University of California - San Francisco (UCSF). Her research interests are to advance scientific inquiry, professional training, public education and health policies that reduce the impacts of environmental contaminants on reproductive and developmental health.

Centers Funded By:
Centers Funded by Epa and NIEHS

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