Investigators

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Emily Oken, MD, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Principal Investigator

Dr. Oken is a Professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Director of the Division of Chronic Disease Across the Lifecourse. She completed residency training in both internal medicine and pediatrics. Her research interests include the influence of nutrition during pregnancy and childhood on maternal and child health. She has studied the balance of risk and benefit from maternal fish consumption during pregnancy on child development. She has also performed a number of studies on the influence of modifiable behaviors during pregnancy, such as smoking, physical activity, and diet, on risk for chronic disease among both mothers and their children. Dr. Oken teaches clinical epidemiology and population health to Harvard Medical School students.

 

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Marie-France Hivert, MD

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute / Massachusetts General Hospital
Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Hivert is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Medicine. She is a clinical investigator with primary focus on the etiology and primordial prevention of obesity and related co-morbidities, particularly type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Her interests also include fetal metabolic programming mechanisms and the integration of genetics, epigenetics, and environmental factors contributing to obesity and related disorders. She is currently involved in many international consortia investigating the genetics determinants of glycemic regulation during and outside of pregnancy. Dr Hivert was awarded a Scholar Research Award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé, a Clinical Scientist Award from the Canadian Diabetes Association, and the New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Dr Hivert is also a practicing Endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 

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Izzuddin Aris, PhD

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Co-Investigator

Dr. Aris is an epidemiologist and a faculty member in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on the paradigm of the developmental origins of health and disease, which postulates that potential drivers of adult chronic disease including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have their origins at key stages during the lifecourse. His work in Project Viva focuses on characterizing distinct growth trajectory patterns and milestones in children, and establishing its relationships with early life risk factors as well as later health outcomes. Dr. Aris received his doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the National University of Singapore in 2015. Prior to joining DPM, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (from 2015 to 2017) and in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School (from 2017 to 2019).

 

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Andrea Baccarelli, MD, MPH, PhD

Columbia University
Co-Investigator

Dr. Baccarelli’s research focuses on identifying molecular and biological factors reflecting the impact of environmental exposures on human health, with particular interest in epigenetics. Epigenetic marks, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNAs, modify chromatin structure and gene expression without changing the underlying DNA sequence. Unlike genetic mutations, which represent rare events with permanent consequences on genes, epigenetic changes are reversible and responsive to environmental influences. Using a highly quantitative Pyrosequencing-based approach for DNA methylation analysis, Dr. Baccarelli has been examining the effects on DNA methylation of a variety of environmental pollutants, including particulate air pollution, airborne benzene, metals, pesticides, dioxin-like compounds, and persistent organic pollutants, which are known to be relevant to disease causation.

 

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Mandy Brown-Belfort, MD, MPH

Children’s Hospital Boston
Co-Investigator

Dr. Belfort is an attending neonatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.  Her current research focuses on the risks and benefits of rapid weight gain in infancy.  Her overall aim is to define optimal patterns of growth for preterm and full term infants that maximize neurodevelopmental potential while minimizing obesity-related consequences of rapid weight gain.  She has also completed studies on infant feeding, health related quality of life in child obesity, and cardiovascular outcomes of preterm birth. Dr. Belfort attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and completed residency and fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital.  She received a masters degree in public health from Harvard. She supervises Harvard neonatology fellows and teaches clinical epidemiology to Harvard medical students.

 

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Carlos Camargo, MD, MPH, DrPH

Channing Laboratory - Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Co-Investigator

Dr. Camargo is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Medicine, and Epidemiology at Harvard, the Conn Chair in Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a research epidemiologist at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital - all in Boston. He founded and leads the Emergency Medicine Network (EMNet), an international research collaboration with >240 hospitals. He also works on the role of nutrition in respiratory/allergy disorders, both in large cohort studies and in randomized controlled trials; the health effects of vitamin D are a major focus. Dr Camargo is Past President of the American College of Epidemiology and has served on several U.S. guidelines, including those on diet, asthma, and food allergy. He has over 1,000 publications, with an H-index of 130.

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Andres Cardenas Salazar, PhD, MPH

University of California, Berkeley - School of Public Health
Co-Investigator

Dr. Cardenas is an environmental epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.. His research looks at early life exposures in utero and epigenetic alterations along with their potential role in the developmental origins of health and disease. His work on Project Viva focuses on investigating the role of environmental and nutritional exposures during pregnancy in molding the infant epigenome at birth. Particularly their relationship with DNA methylation as well as DNA hydroxymethylation and the persistence of these modification during childhood.

 

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Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D

Harvard Medical School / Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Co-Investigator

Dr. Chavarro is Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chavarro’s research focuses on understanding how nutritional, lifestyle and metabolic factors influence reproductive events throughout the life course, and how reproductive and pregnancy events impact other aspects of health.  Dr. Chavarro has conducted a variety of studies among healthy individuals and among couples undergoing infertility treatment domestically and abroad. He is Principal Investigator of the Nurses’ Health Study 3, an ongoing prospective cohort study that follows more than 49,000 women. He also leads the nutritional component of the EARTH Study, a prospective cohort of couples undergoing infertility treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital and of the Young Men’s Studies consortium (with sites in Denmark, Spain and the U.S.), which aims to understand how the environment influences testicular function. In Project Viva, Dr. Chavarro’s work includes understanding how growth and health trajectories differ between children born by cesarean delivery from those born by vaginal delivery, and the long-term health consequences of fertility and pregnancy events among mothers of Project Viva participants.

 

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Ann Chen Wu, MD, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute / Children’s Hospital Boston
Co-Investigator

Dr. Ann Chen Wu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and the Director of the PRecisiOn Medicine Translational Research (PROMoTeR) Center. She is a pediatrician and health services researcher, with research interests in health disparities, asthma, and pharmacogenetics. Dr. Wu is also leading studies that examine the genetic variants associated with asthma pathologies and therapeutic responses, using genomics and metabolomics. She received her BS in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her MD from Harvard Medical School, and completed her pediatrics residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. Dr. Wu practices general pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston, and is the author of an award-winning asthma blog.

 

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Abby Fleisch, MD

Maine Medical Center
Co-Investigator

Dr. Abby Fleisch is an environmental health researcher and pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center. Her research is focused on the role of the prenatal and early life environmental exposures on childhood obesity and insulin resistance. Since 2012, she has worked with the Project Viva birth cohort at the Department of Population Medicine to show that higher ambient air pollution exposure during pregnancy is associated with maternal hyperglycemia, restricted fetal growth, and rapid infant weight gain. Exposure to maternal hyperglycemia in utero, restricted fetal growth, and increased infant weight gain are independent health problems and may also prime children for adverse cardiometabolic health later in life. Dr. Fleisch is therefore currently using Project Viva data to examine the extent to which prenatal air pollution exposure is associated with growth trajectories and cardiometabolic profile in later childhood. Her goal is for this research to help inform environmental policy and bridge to feasible public health interventions.


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Diane Gold, MD, DTM&H

Channing Laboratory - Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Co-Investigator

Dr. Gold's research focuses on the relationships between environmental exposures and the incidence or severity of respiratory diseases, including asthma. The environmental exposures considered include indoor allergens, including fungi, smoking, outdoor ozone and particles. She investigates the environmental exposures which may explain socioeconomic, cultural and gender differences which have been observed in asthma severity. These include perinatal exposures and family stress as well as exposure to the allergens and pollutants mentioned above. She is also interested in the cardiopulmonary effects of particles on the elderly.


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Peter James, ScD

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute / Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Co-Investigator

Dr. James is Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. James's research focuses on estimating the influence of geographic contextual factors, including exposure to nature, the built environment, the food environment, air pollution, light pollution, noise, and socioeconomic factors, on health behaviors and chronic disease. More recently, he is developing methodologies to assess real-time, high spatio-temporal resolution objective measures of location and behavior by linking smartphone-based global positioning systems (GPS) and wearable device accelerometry data to understand how contextual factors influence health behaviors.

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Tamarra James-Todd, PhD, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health/ Brigham and Women's Hospital
Co-Investigator

Dr. Tamarra James-Todd is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology in the Departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. James-Todd’s evaluates the link between environmental chemical exposures and diabetes, obesity and related cardiovascular disease risk among women during the perinatal period and beyond. She is particularly interested in environmental endocrine disrupting chemical exposures, including exposures to phthalates, phenols, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, during the sensitive window of pregnancy as it relates to long-term adverse cardiometabolic outcomes in women. She is also interested in racial/ethnic disparities in environmental exposures as it relates to both pregnancy and cardiovascular disease outcomes. Dr. James-Todd is the Principal Investigator of the NIEHS-funded ERGO study, an ongoing prospective cohort study exploring the role of environmental factors on pregnancy and postpartum health. Dr. James-Todd received her B.S. in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University; MPH in International Health from Boston University; and PhD in Epidemiology from Columbia University.

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Ken Kleinman, ScD

University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Co-Investigator

Dr. Kleinman is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and is an applied biostatistician with diverse interests. He is involved with many projects at the DPM, including vaccine and bioterrorism surveillance, observational epidemiology, and individual-, practice-, and community-randomized interventions. Dr. Kleinman also consults within the DPM and HPHC on various statistical issues and advises DPM fellows on statistical and methodological aspects of their research projects. His statistical research centers mainly on methods for clustered and longitudinal repeated measures data. He also has interests in the area of missing data methods.


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Wei Perng, PhD, MPH

Colorado School of Public Health
Co-Investigator

Dr. Perng is a nutritional epidemiologist focused on maternal and child health. Her interests fall under three lines of inquiry: (1) identifying early life determinants of childhood obesity and dysmetabolism; (2) elucidating biological pathways involved in development of adiposity; and (3) understanding how maternal condition during the peripartum period corresponds with postpartum cardiovascular and metabolic health. She is particularly interested in metabolomic profiles associated with excess adiposity and their role in development of metabolic risk.


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Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Lead Research Analyst

Sheryl Rifas-Shiman is a lead research analyst in the Department of Population Medicine.  She is involved with many projects at the DPM including observational epidemiology, surveillance, and randomized interventions.  Her research interests include nutrition and other exposures that occur during pregnancy and childhood, and the influence of these experiences on the health of both mother and child.  Sheryl has led several analyses in the area of research methodology and predictors of childhood obesity.  As an educator, she has advised many research fellows and graduate/medical students on their research projects.


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Joanne Sordillo, ScD, MS

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Co-Investigator

Dr. Sordillo is a Research Scientist in the Department of Population Medicine. She is an asthma epidemiologist with a background in clinical laboratory science, environmental exposure assessment and the microbiome. Dr. Sordillo specializes in gene by environment interaction studies. She is PI of an NIH funded study on An Integrative Genomics Approach to Gene by Environment Interactions in Asthma, and a co-investigator on the Age-Dependent Pharmacogenomics of Asthma Treatment (ADAPT) study. Dr. Sordillo also conducts research within Project Viva, with a special focus on prenatal and early life exposures and their influence on allergic disease risk. Dr. Sordillo received her ScD from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.


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Karen Switkowski, PhD, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Co-Investigator

Dr. Switkowski is a Research Scientist in the Department of Population Medicine. Her background is in nutrition science and epidemiology, and she is primarily interested in researching associations of early-life nutrition, including maternal diet and nutritional status during pregnancy, with child health outcomes. She was formerly the Project Viva Project Manager and currently coordinates Project Viva’s participation in the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program. Dr. Switkowski received her PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

 

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Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH

Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital
Co-Investigator

Dr. Taveras is Chief of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics and Executive Director of the Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also Conrad Taff Professor of Pediatrics in the Field of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School and Professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research interests include nutrition and physical activity as they affect child health and childhood obesity prevention. Dr. Taveras is a recipient of the Physician Faculty Scholars Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to examine opportunities for childhood obesity prevention among underserved populations. Dr. Taveras trained in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center and received her Master's Degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.


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Jessica Young, PhD

Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Co-Investigator

Dr. Young is an Assistant Professor and Biostatistician in the Department of Population Medicine. Her research focuses on the development and application of statistical methods that may remain valid for estimating the causal effects of time-varying treatment strategies on health outcomes in the face of complex time-varying confounding and selection bias. She has particular interest in failure event outcomes that may be subject to competing risk events and dynamic time-varying treatment strategies; i.e. strategies under which treatment assignment at a given time may depend on time-evolving patient characteristics. Dr. Young received her doctoral degree in Biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. Prior to joining DPM, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Research Associate in the Program on Causal Inference at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.