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Your Environment. Your Health.

Epidemiology Branch

Photo of Sandler, Dale P.
Dale Sandler, Ph.D.
Chief, Epidemiology Branch and Principal Investigator
Tel (919) 541-4668
Fax (301) 480-3290
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop A3-05
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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Stephanie J. London, M.D., Dr.P.H.
Stephanie J. London, M.D., Dr.P.H.
Deputy Chief, Epidemiology Branch and Principal Investigator
Tel (919) 541-5772
Fax (301) 480-3290
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop A3-05
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Delivery | Postal
Delivery Instructions

Research Summary

NIEHS-Funded Epidemiology Resources

The NIEHS has made substantial investment in environmental epidemiology research studies. The NIEHS-Funded Epidemiology Resources webpage, also known as Cohorts, provides general information for the public and grantees to exhibit the breadth of these resources and to facilitate collaborations.

The Epidemiology Branch addresses the mission of the NIEHS by applying and extending the tools of epidemiology to study the effects of the environment on human health.

Epidemiology Branch investigators study a wide range of health effects with potential links to environmental exposures. Studies cover outcomes across the lifespan from pregnancy and child development to chronic diseases of aging, and focus on known and potential environmental hazards.

Epidemiology Branch studies often include the collection of biological and environmental samples to measure biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, or effect. Our research portfolio includes a mix “big science” and more narrowly-defined work, ranging from large multi-purpose cohorts designed specifically to study gene-environment interactions and genome- and epigenome-wide association studies to laboratory-based mechanistic studies. The cohorts developed or sponsored by the Branch facilitate multi-disciplinary studies of health effects of environmental exposure and foster collaborations both within NIEHS and with the extramural community.


The Epidemiology Branch, led by Branch Chief Dale P. Sandler, Ph.D., and Deputy Branch Chief Stephanie J. London, M.D., Dr.P.H., is part of the NIEHS Division of Intramural Research (DIR), which encompasses both basic and applied laboratory research. This setting provides rich opportunities for collaboration with lab scientists and access to the tools and insights of basic biology.

The Epidemiology Branch staff of over 30 personnel includes seven permanent tenured researchers, as well as tenure-track investigators, staff scientists, visiting fellows, and predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The Epidemiology Branch office includes support staff and project officers for multi-user Branch contracts.

The Epidemiology Branch has eight research groups:

  • Aging and Neuroepidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Honglei Chen, this group carries out studies designed to identify environmental and genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease and to characterize populations at potentially higher risk of Parkinson’s disease that can be the focus of future etiologic and prevention work. The latter involves studies of Parkinson’s pre-motor symptoms and other early signs of neurologic dysfunction.
  • Biomarker-based Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Matthew Longnecker, this group focuses on health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants, including studies of effects of background levels exposures that occur in the general population and studies in populations with exposures that exceed those in the U.S. Research questions include potential reproductive and developmental effects of exposures such as DDT, PCBs, Perfluoroalkyl compounds, Bisphenol A, and nonpersistent pesticides.
  • Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Dale Sandler, this group uses prospective cohorts to study the impact of environmental and lifestyle exposures on population health. The Agricultural Health Study (in collaboration with the NCI and EPA) focuses on cancer and non-cancer health risks associated with pesticides and other agricultural exposures. The Sister Study focuses on environmental and genetic contributors to breast cancer and other outcomes. The GuLF STUDY was developed in response to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other studies investigate genetic and environmental risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autoimmune diseases, and chronic kidney disease.
  • Genetics, Environment and Respiratory Disease Group - Led by Dr. Stephanie London, this group focuses on the role of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors in relation to the development of respiratory illness across the life course. Work includes a large field study of respiratory function and disease in an agricultural setting and large scale epigenetics and genomics projects, including international research consortia that pool data across multiple cohorts or case-control studies.
  • Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Jack Taylor, this group carries out research directed towards understanding the interaction between genes and environmental exposures in human carcinogenesis. Current studies focus on epigenetic modifications in relation to human exposure and cancer susceptibility, including both laboratory-based studies and large epigenome-wide association studies of breast and prostate cancers.
  • Pediatric Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Walter Rogan, this group studies the effects of exogenous chemicals on the growth and development of children. Work includes the development or validation of methods to study such effects and addresses treatment and policy implications for pediatric health care. The group’s current major effort is a study of potential developmental effects of the plant estrogens in soy infant formula.
  • Perinatal and Early Life Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Kelly Ferguson, this group studies how maternal environmental exposures impact pregnancy and the development of the fetus and child. The primary research focus is understanding how maternal chemical and non-chemical exposures interact to cause changes in oxidative stress levels and metabolic function that lead to poor perinatal and early life health outcomes. The overall aim is to identify modifiable factors that can be targeted for prevention of prematurity, growth restriction, and long-term health consequences to the mother and child.
  • Reproductive Epidemiology Group - Led by Dr. Allen Wilcox, this group focuses on the time period from conception to birth and its potential disruption by environmental factors. Work includes applied studies directed towards discovering how specific environmental factors might affect reproduction and development as well as more basic and theoretical work to address questions related to underlying biological mechanisms and the development of analytic methods that can pave the way for improved etiologic studies. Specific conditions investigated, in addition to early events of reproduction, include cleft lip and palate and cerebral palsy.
  • Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity Group - Led by Dr. Chandra L. Jackson, this group investigates how physical and social environmental determinants influence racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cardiometabolic health and wellbeing. Work includes studying how physical and social attributes of neighborhood, housing, and work environments affect sleep health - insufficient sleep duration and inadequate sleep quality — as well as subsequent cardiometabolic health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Women’s Health - Led by Dr. Donna Baird, this group focuses on women’s reproductive health, especially understudied conditions. A primary interest is uterine fibroids, a hormonally dependent condition that serves as a model for studying windows of susceptibility and mechanisms of hormonal action. Fibroids represent a major public health problem that may have a significant environmental component. The group also studies fertility and pregnancy and focuses on the development of methods to advance the field.

Scientific Support Staff

Paula Juras
Paula S. Juras, Ph.D.
Project Officer

Tel (919) 541-3478
Fax (301) 480-3290

Administrative Staff

Edward Mosley
Edward L. Mosley
Administrative Technician

Tel (919) 541-3445
Fax (301) 480-3290

Career Opportunities

Open positions and fellowships with the Epidemiology Branch are also available online, as are application instructions.

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