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NEWS | August 1, 2013

Hertz-Picciotto appointed to prestigious NIH scientific review committee


Environmental epidemiologist Irva Hertz-Picciotto, UC Davis professor of public health sciences, has been appointed to the Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME) Study Section of the Center for Scientific Review of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The appointment is effective immediately and ends in June 2017.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto © UC Regents Irva Hertz-Picciotto © UC Regents

Hertz-Picciotto was selected for the honor because of her “demonstrated competence and achievements in her scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors,” said Center for Scientific Review Director Richard Nakamura.

Professor Hertz-Picciotto is section chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the UC Davis School of Medicine. As a member of the NAME Study Section, she will review grant proposals submitted to any of the NIH institutes, primarily those that address health concerns related to child neurotoxins, mechanisms governing abnormal development and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as disorders of aging, such as osteoporosis.

“It’s an honor to serve the NIH, which is the primary funder of biomedical research in the United States and the premier national research funding institution worldwide,” Hertz-Picciotto said of the appointment.

Hertz-Picciotto is best known for her broadly based research exploring the relationships between environmental exposures and autism spectrum disorder. Her research Program on Environmental Epidemiology of Autism and Neurodevelopment, centered at the UC Davis MIND Institute, has generated more clues regarding specific, modifiable factors contributing to the increase in the incidence of autism than nearly all such programs worldwide combined.

“Dr. Hertz-Picciotto is an outstanding choice for appointment to this NIH Study Section,” said Ellen Gold, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. “She has made very valuable contributions to environmental epidemiology, particularly pertaining to adverse health outcomes in infants and young children that have been related to environmental exposures. Now, she adds this honor, which is provided to outstanding scientists in their fields, a criterion that she clearly meets.”

Hertz-Picciotto has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on environmental exposures such as metals, pesticides, air pollutants and endocrine disruptors, their interactions with nutrition, and their influences on pregnancy, the newborn and child development. She sits on the editorial boards of several major scientific journals in epidemiology, environmental health and autism.

Hertz-Picciotto has been honored with numerous appointments to state, national and international advisory panels, including such organizations as the Food Safety in Europe Working Group, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program, the California Air Resources Board, and the NIH Interagency Coordinating Committee on Autism Research. She also provides services to numerous foundations, including acting as a Scientific Advisor for Healthy Child, Healthy World and for Autism Speaks.

Her other accomplishments include chairing the two National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine panels on Agent Orange and Vietnam Veterans and, more recently, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Breast Cancer and the Environment; being elected president of two of the largest professional epidemiology societies; and chairing the Expert Panel on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Safety Database for Studies of Autism and Thimerosal. Hertz-Picciotto has taught epidemiologic methods on four continents and mentored over 60 doctoral and postdoctoral scholars. In 2011, she received the Goldsmith Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.  

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at