Tamarra James-Todd, Ph.D., investigates how exposure to environmental factors, such as hormone-disrupting chemicals, might change mothers’ heart and metabolic health during pregnancy and contribute to disease later in life. She is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In the early phase of her career, James-Todd utilized a variety of resources provided by the Harvard Chan-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health (HC-NCEH) to advance her research.
“The Harvard-NIEHS Core Center has been invaluable to my work as a junior faculty member at the school,” wrote James-Todd. “The resources at our center have provided me with a significant launchpad for my career in the area of environmental reproductive epidemiology through grant review and pilot funding needed to secure future grants and pursue critical research questions in the area of the environment and women’s health.”
James-Todd is one of ten researchers in the early phase of their academic careers who shared their research at the 2018 NIEHS Core Centers Annual Meeting. She presented results of a study examining the association between phthalate and paraben exposures in pregnant women and risk of maternal diabetes during pregnancy, also called gestational diabetes. She found that blood sugar levels were higher in pregnant women who had higher levels of some of these chemicals.
At the meeting, she met another early-stage career researcher, Marissa (Terry) Sobolewski, Ph.D., from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Environmental Health Sciences Center, who is studying endocrine disruptors in a mouse model. “Our discussion at the meeting led to a new collaboration between epidemiology and basic science to develop experimental models of environmental influences of maternal health,” said James-Todd. She was invited to present her work and the URMC, and Sobolweski will likely share her work at the HC-NCEH in the coming year. James-Todd noted that their encounter at the meeting led to “new connections and synergies across multiple centers.”
She also commented that “the center has provided an invaluable space — both in conferences and at the individual center — to build connections, networks, and research endeavors to better understand how environmental chemicals could impact women’s health.”