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UC Davis MIND Institute researcher recognized for outstanding contributions to environmental epidemiology

Irva Hertz-Picciotto © UC Regents
Irva Hertz-Picciotto

Posted June 15, 2011

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an international authority on the effects of environmental exposures on perinatal and neurodevelopmental outcomes with the UC Davis MIND Institute and UC Davis School of Medicine, received the 2011 John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE).

ISEE is an international organization with members from more than 50 countries who conduct leading-edge research on a wide range of topics, from environmental exposures and health effects to environment-gene interactions, ethics and law. The Goldsmith award recognizes sustained and innovative contributions to the knowledge and practice of environmental epidemiology. The award will be presented at the 2011 ISEE Annual Conference in Barcelona, Spain, which will be held September 13-16, 2011.

Hertz-Picciotto was recognized for her groundbreaking investigations leading to novel insights into the etiology of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and for inquiries that have drawn back the curtain on the true incidence of a condition affecting growing numbers of children worldwide. Her transformational research has addressed the effects of lead, arsenic, mercury, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and air pollution on pregnancy outcomes and early child development. Her visionary achievements already have provided clues that could lead to earlier detection of autism and have laid the groundwork for prevention strategies — such as advising behavioral changes to limit mothers’ exposures to harmful chemicals and advocating regulations to ban harmful substances from consumer products.

About the MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute © UC RegentsAt the UC Davis MIND Institute, world-renowned scientists engage in research to find improved treatments as well as the causes and cures for autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, fragile X syndrome, Tourette syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, genetics, pharmacology and behavioral sciences are making inroads into a better understanding of brain function. The UC Davis MIND Institute draws from these and other disciplines to conduct collaborative, multidisciplinary research. For more information, visit the MIND Institute website.

Currently, Hertz-Picciotto’s work is focused on autism and cognitive impairment. As deputy director of UC Davis Children’s Center for Environmental Health, she serves as principal investigator for several leading National Institutes of Health-funded studies, including three major investigations of autism. These include the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment, or CHARGE, study; the Markers of Autism Risk in Babies — Learning Early Signs, or MARBLES, study; and the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) study, for which she is co-principal investigator. Dr. Hertz-Picciotto also directs the Northern California Center for the National Children’s Study, the nation’s largest examination of how environmental factors may contribute to asthma, autism, diabetes and problems with weight, attention and learning in children of all ages.

Hertz-Picciotto is a graduate of UC Berkeley, earning her undergraduate degree in mathematics, master’s degree in public health in epidemiology, master’s degree in biostatistics and doctoral degree in epidemiology. She came to UC Davis in 2002, where she quickly became a high-impact and productive member of the Department of Public Health Sciences, ultimately becoming chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health at UC Davis School of Medicine. She has published 100 peer-reviewed papers on epidemiologic methodologies and the relationship between environmental exposures and health, bringing her total number of publications to more than 230.