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UC Davis MIND Institute

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D. View profile as PDF

Rebecca J. Schmidt

Clinical Interests

My research goal is to advance understanding of how environmental exposures, primarily those occurring during gestation, interact with genetic susceptibility to influence neurodevelopmental outcomes for children, using a mechanistic and pathways perspective. Because nutritional factors, especially B-complex vitamins needed for one-carbon metabolism and methylation reactions, have prominent influences on gene expression and are especially important during gestation and early life, my research has largely focused their effects on neurodevelopment and risk for autism.


Assistant Professor


Autism, Molecular Epidemiology, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Reproductive Epidemiology


Public Health Sciences



Center/Program Affiliation:


UC Davis School of Medicine - Medical Sciences 1C

Davis, CA 95616
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M.S., University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA, 2000
Ph.D., University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA, 2007
B.S., University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1998


UC Davis MIND Institute, Sacramento, CA, 2008-10

Professional Memberships:

American Society for Nutrition
American Society of Human Genetics
International Society for Autism Research
International Society for Epidemiological Epidemiology
Society for Epidemiologic Research

Select Honors and Awards:

Paper recognized as a 2011 Paper of the Year by the NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), 2011

Paper selected as Top Ten Science Autism Research Achievements of 2011 by Autism Speaks, 2011

Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women’s Health Program Scholar, 2011

Select Recent Publications:

Mitchell MM, Woods R, Chi L-H, Schmidt RJ, Pessah IN, Kostyniak PJ, and LaSalle JM. 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 Published Online, Aug 29, 2012.

Schmidt RJ, Tancredi DJ, Ozonoff S, Hansen RL, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt LC, Tassone F, Hertz-Picciotto I. 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. Published Online May 30, 2012.

Schmidt RJ, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt L, Hansen RL, Tassone F. (2012) Selected vitamin D metabolic gene variants and risk for autism spectrum disorders in the CHARGE Study. [Abstract] Journal of Women’s Health: 21(10): 1000.

Schmidt RJ, Hansen RL, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt L, Tancredi DJ, Tassone F, Hertz-Picciotto I (2011). 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

Schmidt RJ, Romitti PA, Burns TL, Browne ML, Druschel CM, Olney RS, Murray JC (2010 Jul). Caffeine, selected metabolic gene variants, and risk for neural tube defects. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 88(7):560-569. Published Online, May 27, 2010.

Schmidt RJ, Romitti PA, Burns TL, Browne ML, Druschel CM, Olney RS; the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (2009 Nov 11). Maternal caffeine consumption and risk of neural tube defects. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol (formerly Teratology) 85(11):879-889.