Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D.


Child Development

Preventive Medicine/Epidemiology

Public Health Sciences

Reproductive/perinatal Health


  • Deputy Director, UC Davis Children's Center for Environmental Health
  • Director, Northern California Collaborative Center for the National Children's Study
  • Director, Program in Environmental Epidemiology of Autism
  • Professor of Epidemiology and Chief, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health

UC Davis School of Medicine

Davis, CA 95616
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Clinical Interests

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, is Director of the NIH-funded UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Center; and Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, UC Davis. She is an internationally renowned environmental epidemiologist with over 300 scientific publications addressing environmental exposures, including metals, pesticides, air pollutants and endocrine disruptors, their interactions with nutrition, social factors and genetics, and their influences on pregnancy, the newborn, and child development.

Over the last 15 years, she has built a comprehensive research program on the environmental causes for autism, which has produced seminal papers on the links with pesticides, traffic-related air pollution, low periconceptional folic acid intake, and untreated fever during pregnancy.

The EHS Center that she directs fosters collaborations across disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, public health, pulmonology, engineering, chemistry and sociology to identify key drivers of environmentally induced disease and disability, and partners with government agencies and community organizations to develop interventions that can reduce the harmful exposures and improve health.

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto has held appointments on numerous state and national advisory panels to organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NIH National Toxicology Program, California Air Resources Board, and California Proposition 65 Carcinogen Identification Committee. She chaired three National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Panels, mentored 75 pre- and post-doctoral trainees, taught epidemiologic methods on four continents, and in 2011, received the Goldsmith Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Recently she co-founded Project TENDR (Targeting Environment and Neuro-Developmental Risks), a collaborative effort of scientists, clinicians, policy-makers and advocates that aims to decrease the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders by reducing neurotoxicant exposures that contribute to them.


Public Health Sciences

Center/Program Affiliation

UC Davis MIND Institute


Ph.D., M.P.H., UC Berkeley School of Medicine, Berkeley, California, 1989

B.A., UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 1970

M.P.H., UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 1984

M.A., UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 1985

Professional Memberships

American Epidemiological Society, elected 2002-present

International Society for Autism Research, 2007-present

International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (Founding member), 1988-present, President 2002-2003

Society for Epidemiologic Research, 1983-present, President 2005-2006

Honors and Awards

Health Hero of 2012, Category: Researcher, Sacramento Business Journal., 2012

Lifetime Achievement Award: John Goldsmith Award for Sustained and Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology, bestowed by the ISEE (International Society for Environmental Epidemiology). Invitation to deliver the Keynote John Goldsmith Memorial Award presentation at the annual ISEE meeting in Barcelona, Spain, September 2011., 2011

Top Ten Papers of 2011 by NIEHS, and by Autism Speaks, as senior author of: Schmidt et al. The combined effects of maternal prenatal vitamin intake and common functional gene variants in folate and transmethylation pathways on risk for autism spectrum disorders in the CHARGE study. Epidemiology 22:476-485. PMID 21610500, 2011

The Epidemiology Monitor Editor's Picks, March 2009 - Best Selections, "Researchers Suggest Increase in California Autism Cases Is Real." Citation for Hertz-Picciotto Delwiche, Epidemiology 2009 paper, 2009

Jubilee Medal, Scientific Board of the Slovak Medical University in Bratislava, Celebration of institutional postgraduate education of health care professionals in Slovakia, 2008

UPI’s (United Press International) “Quote of the Year” by Dan Olmsted Washington, DC, 2006

NCI Distinguished Lecturer in Occupational and Environmental Cancer, National Cancer Institute, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, 2004

NAS/NRC Lifetime Appointment as National Associate of the National Academies; awarded by the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council, 2002

McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2001

Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society, Theta Chapter, 1998

First prize for investigation in “Public Health and Social Sciences” Secretary of Health through the Director of the NIH of Mexico, 1997

NAS (National Academy of Sciences) Young Investigator Program Awardee, Program on Environmental Health in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine, 1997

Abraham Lilienfeld Student Prize Paper, Best Doctoral Dissertation of the Year, Society for Epidemiologic Research, 1988

Society for Epidemiologic Research Student Workshop Participant, “A Positive Use of Negative Epidemiologic Studies”, 18th Ann. Mtg., Chapel Hill, NC, 1985

Select Recent Publications

Chaidez V, Hansen R, Hertz-Picciotto I. (epub 7 Mar 2012) Autism spectrum disorders in Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice 2012;16(4): 381-397.

Howards PP, Hertz-Picciotto I, Bech BH, Nøhr EA, Anderson AMN, Poole C, Olsen J. Spontaneous abortion and a diet drug containing caffeine and ephedrine. PLoS ONE November 16, 2012.

Krakowiak P, Walker CK, Bremer AA, Baker AS, Ozonoff S, Hansen RL, Hertz-Picciotto I (epub 9 Apr 2012). Maternal metabolic conditions and risk for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Pediatrics 129(5):e1121-8x.

Paper of the Month for April 2012 by NIEHS, as senior author: Krakowiak et al. Maternal metabolic conditions and risk for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Pediatrics 2012; 129(5):31121-8x.

Schmidt RJ, Hansen RL, Hertz-Picciotto I (epub May ‘12). Maternal periconceptional folic acid intake and risk for autism spectrum disorders in the CHARGE case-control study. Am J Clin Nutrition 2012 Jul;96(1):80-9.

Vogt R, Cassady D, Frost J, Bennett DH Hertz-Picciotto I. An assessment of exposures to toxins through diet among California residents. Environ Health 2012;11:83

Tassone F, Qi L, Zang W, Hansen R, Pessah I, Hertz-Picciotto I (Aug 2011). MAO-A, D?H, and 5-HTT variants in CHARGE: a case-control study of autism spectrum disorders. Autism Res 4:250-61.

Schmidt RJ, Hansen RL, Hartiala J, Allayee H, Schmidt LC, Tassone F, Hertz-Picciotto I. (epub May 2011) The combined effects of maternal prenatal vitamin intake and common functional gene variants in folate and transmethylation pathways on risk for autism spectrum disorders in the CHARGE Study. Epidemiology 2011;22:476-485.

Zerbo O, Iosif A-M, Delwiche L, Walker C, Hertz-Picciotto I (epub May 2011). Month and season of conception as a risk factor for autism/autism spectrum disorders. Epidemiology 2011;22:469–475.