Rebecca J. Schmidt, Ph.D. - IDDRC Investigator

Rebecca J. Schmidt, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, UC Davis MIND Institute, Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95817

Phone: 530-752-3226 / Fax: 530-517-0026

Areas of Interest

Molecular Epidemiology, Autism, Neurodevelopment, Gene-Environment Interaction, Maternal Nutrition, Gestational Exposures


Rebecca J. Schmidt’s research focuses on understanding how environmental exposures, primarily those occurring during gestation, interact with genetic susceptibility to influence neurodevelopmental outcomes for children. Because nutritional factors have prominent influences on gene expression and are especially important during the perinatal period, her research has largely focused on nutritional effects on neurodevelopment as they interact with the genome, including producing the first evidence for a potentially protective effect of folic acid, and a first example of gene x environment interaction in autism with one-carbon metabolism genes. She co-leads an effort to develop a semi-validated early life environmental exposure questionnaire to be used in autism studies, and is expanding research on gene-environment and nutrient-environment interactions in the context of autism, working towards identifying mechanisms potentially involved, especially those relating to epigenetics, as this field provides groundbreaking framework for these intersections.

Current IDDRC Projects

  • Exploring Interactions between Folate and Environmental Risk Factors for Autism, NIEHS/ODS/NIH, R21 ES021330

Recent Representative Publications

Schmidt RJ, Hansen RL, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt L, Tancredi DJ, Tassone F, Hertz-Picciotto I (2011 Jul). Prenatal vitamins, functional one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism in the CHARGE Study. Epidemiology 22(4): 476-485. Published Online, May 24, 2011. *Selected by Autism Speaks for Top Ten Science Autism Research Achievements of 2011 and recognized as a 2011 Paper of the Year by the NIEHS

Schmidt RJ, Tancredi DJ, Ozonoff S, Hansen RL, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt LC, Tassone F, Hertz-Picciotto I (2012). Maternal periconceptional folic acid intake and risk of autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay in the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr 96(1):80-9. Published Online May 30, 2012. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004416

Mitchell MM, Woods R, Chi L-H, Schmidt RJ, Pessah IN, Kostyniak PJ, and LaSalle JM (2012 Oct). Levels of select PCB and PBDE congeners in human postmortem brain reveal possible environmental involvement in 15q11-q13 duplication autism spectrum disorder. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis 53(8):589-98 Published Online, Aug 29, 2012. doi: 10.1002/em.21722.

Hertz-Picciotto I, Lyall K, Schmidt RJ (2014 Apr). Maternal Lifestyle and Environmental Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders. [Invited Review] International Journal of Epidemiology 43(2): 443-64. Published Online Feb 11, 2014. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyt282. PMID: 24518932.

Shelton JF, Geraghty EM, Tancredi DJ, Delwiche LD, Schmidt RJ, Ritz B, Hansen RL, Hertz-Picciotto I. “Prenatal residential proximity to agricultural pesticides is associated with autism and developmental delay in the CHARGE study.” Environ Health Perspect. Published Online Jun 23, 2014. PMID: 24954055.

Schmidt RJ, Tancredi DJ, Krakowiak P, Hansen RL, Ozonoff S. Maternal Intake of Supplemental Iron and Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Am J Epidemiol [In Press]