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University of California, San Francisco

Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center - Formative Center

University of California, San Francisco
Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D.

Project Description:

At the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center, researchers are exploring how to measure exposures in the womb and how to study their health effects on early development. Early life exposure to chemicals can lead to adverse birth outcomes such as preterm delivery, low birth weight, and greater risk for later chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.


This center focuses on early exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that may interfere with a person’s hormonal system. BPA is widely used in the lining of canned food and drinks, certain plastics, and other products. The center aims to develop new methods for early identification of harmful environmental exposures and to find ways to prevent diseases that may be triggered through such exposures. To help prevent early exposures to harmful chemicals, the researchers are sharing their findings with health care providers, policy makers, and community groups.

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Project 1: Assessing maternal and fetal exposure to chemicals 

Project leader: Tracey J. Woodruff, Ph.D.


In this project, researchers investigate whether levels of BPA measured in a pregnant woman can be used to predict exposures within the uterus. The ability to accurately predict such exposures could help develop ways of preventing further harmful exposure and thus better protect children’s health.

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Project 2: Assessing the effects of BPA exposure on early human development 

Project leader: Michael McMaster, Ph.D.


This project examines the effects of BPA on the early stages of human development. Researchers investigate how the presence of BPA affects development by changing which genes are turned on and off. Investigators hope to gain important information about the how BPA may interfere with early events in development.

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Pilot Project: Predictors of maternal exposure to BPA during pregnancy 

Project leader: Naomi E. Stotland, M.D.


This study aims to find out how people are exposed to BPA in order to learn how to reduce and prevent harmful exposures. The study is also expected to provide valuable information on how long BPA can remain active in the body. Researchers are using questionnaires and biological specimens to study how pregnant women are exposed to BPA through food and other sources.

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