Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
ScB, Neuroscience, Brown University, 1989
PhD, Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, 1994
ScD, Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 2006
Selected Professional Affiliations
International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
Society for Epidemiological Research
American Academy of Neurology
My research interests mostly come from my background in neurobiology. I am interested in how environmental factors affect the nervous system, as well as the epidemiology of neurologic disorders. Current areas of my work include how environmental exposures relate to:
- cognitive function,
- psychiatric disorders,
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and
- Parkinson’s disease (PD)
Some examples of my current work are exploring how exposure to, e.g., lead, manganese, and air pollution affect cognitive function and psychiatric symptoms; how exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam relate to the development of PD; and how formaldehyde and lead exposure relate to the development of ALS.
Although not exclusively, much of my work is conducted within large cohorts. I have worked on risk factors for ALS mortality using the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II cohort, which has been the largest prospective cohort study of risk factors for ALS with a cohort size of over 1 million. I have also worked on organochlorine exposures and risk of PD in a nested case-control study within the Finnish Mobile Health Clinic study of over 40,000 Finnish residents. I am currently exploring the relation between air pollution exposures and risk of autism among children of women in the Nurses Health Study 2. I am just beginning the study of Agent Orange and PD, which will be nested within the population of Vietnam era veterans receiving medical care through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. I also work with the Normative Aging Study cohort and the Nurses Health Study 1.
An important direction of my research involves developing new ways of examining impacts on the nervous system. My past laboratory research examined the cellular and molecular mechanisms of plasticity in different areas of the brain, processes that are believed to underlie learning, memory, and emotional regulation at the behavioral level. I am building on this background to develop new biomarkers of effects on the nervous system in humans that may be earlier indicators—and potentially more sensitive ones—of adverse effects. I am the principal investigator of a grant to examine the effects of lead exposure on physiological measures of a simple form of learning: conditioning of the acoustic startle reflex. This form of learning relies on biological processes that are the same as those thought to underlie other forms of learning and memory; is independent of conscious processing and so likely avoids many of the biases inherent in assessing cognitive function by other means; is readily applied in different cultural settings; has direct parallels in animal models, thus facilitating comparison with that literature; and additionally may have important implications for anxiety and other emotional disturbances in humans. In addition, I am exploring the use of brain imaging techniques to examine effects of environmental toxicants on the brain.
See “Sites of Note” for reports and videos on some of this work.
Eum KD, Korrick SA, Weuve J, Okereke O, Kubzansky LD, Hu H, Weisskopf MG. Relation of Chronic Low-Level Lead Exposure to Depressive and Phobic Anxiety Symptoms in Women. Environ Health Perspect., 120(6):817-23, 2012.
LaohaudomchokW, Lin X, Herrick RF, Fang SC, Cavallari JM, Christiani DC, Weisskopf MG. Toenail, Blood and Urine as Biomarkers of Manganese Exposure. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 53(5):506-10, 2011.
Nie LH, Sanchez S, Newton K, Grodzins L, Cleveland R, Weisskopf MG. In Vivo Quantification of Lead in Bone with a Portable XRF System – Methodology and Feasibility. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 56(3):N39-51, 2011.
Weisskopf MG, Weuve J, Nie H, Saint-Hilaire MH, Sudarsky L, Simon DK, Hersh B, Schwartz J, Wright RO, Hu H. Association of Cumulative Lead Exposure with Parkinson’s Disease. Environ Health Perspect., 118(11): 1609–1613, 2010.
Bouchard M, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG; Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary organophosphate metabolites in U.S. children 8 to 15 years, Pediatrics, 125(6):e1270-77, 2010.
Weisskopf MG, Knekt P, O’Reilly EJ, Lyytinen J, Reunanen A, Laden F, Altshul L, Ascherio A; Prospective study of serum organochlorine pesticides and Parkinson disease risk, Neurology, 74(13):1055-61, 2010.
Bouchard M, Bellinger DC, Weuve J, Mathews-Bellinger J, Gilman SE, Wright RO, Schwartz J,Weisskopf MG; Blood lead levels and major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder in U.S. young adults, Arch. Gen. Psychiatry, 66(12):1313-19, 2009.
Dikmen SS, Corrigan JD, Levin HS, Machamer J, Stiers W, Weisskopf MG; Cognitive outcome following traumatic injury, J. Head Trauma Rehabil., 24(6):430-438, 2009.
Weisskopf MG, Jain N, Nie H, Sparrow D, Vokonas P, Schwartz J, Hu H; A prospective study of bone lead concentration and death from all causes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer in the VA Normative Aging Study, Circulation, 120(12):1056-64, 2009.
Weisskopf MG, Ascherio A; Cigarettes and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Only Smoke or Also Fire?Ann. Neurol., 65(4):361-362, 2009.
Weisskopf MG, Morozova N, O’Reilly E, McCullough ML, Calle EE, Thun MJ, Ascherio A; Prospective study of chemical exposures and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry, 80(5):558-61, 2009.
WeisskopfMG, O’ReillyE, ChenH, SchwarzschildMA, AscherioA. Plasma urate and risk of Parkinson’s disease; Am. J. Epidemiol., 166(5):561-567, 2007.
Weisskopf MG, Hu H, Sparrow D, Lenkinski RE, WrightRO; Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Evidence of Glial Effects of Cumulative Lead Exposure in the Adult Human Hippocampus; Environ. Health. Perspect., 115(4):519-523, 2007
Weisskopf MG, Myers GJ; Cumulative effect of lead on cognition: Is bone more revealing than blood?Neurology, 67(9):1536-7, 2006.
Weisskopf MG, O’Reilly EJ, McCullough, ML, Calle EE, Thun MJ, Cudkowicz M, Ascherio A; Prospective study of military service and mortality from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Neurology, 64(1):32-7, 2005.
Weisskopf MG, Wright RO, Schwartz J, Spiro III A, Sparrow D, Aro A, Hu H; Cumulative lead exposure and prospective change in cognition among elderly men: the VA Normative Aging Study; Am. J. Epidemiol., 160(12):1184-93, 2004.
Weisskopf MG, Hu H, Mulkern RV, White R, Aro A, Oliveira S, Wright RO; Cognitive Deficits and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in Adult Monozygotic Twins with Lead Poisoning; Environ. Health. Perspect., 112(5):620-625, 2004.
Weisskopf MG , Chen H, Schwarzschild MA, Kawachi I, Ascherio A; Prospective study of phobic anxiety and risk of Parkinson’s disease; Mov. Disord., 18(6):646-51, 2003 .
Weisskopf MG , Hanrahan LP, Anderson HA, for the Great Lakes Consortium; Decreased sex ratio following maternal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls from contaminated Great Lakes sport-caught fish: a retrospective cohort study; Environ. Health., 2:2, 2003.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Public health dispatch: Potential risk of lead exposure in dental offices; Morb Mort. Wkly Rep., 50(40):873-874, 2001.
Weisskopf MG, Bauer EP, LeDoux JE; L-type voltage-gated calcium channels mediate NMDA-independent associative long-term potentiation at thalamic input synapses to the amygdala; J. Neurosci., 19:10512-10519, 1999.
Weisskopf MG, Nicoll RA; Presynaptic changes during mossy fibre LTP revealed by NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses; Nature, 376:256-259, 1995.
Weisskopf MG, Castillo PE, Zalutsky RA, Nicoll RA; Mediation of hippocampal mossy fiber long-term potentiation by cyclic AMP; Science, 265:1878-1882, 1994.
Weisskopf MG, Zalutsky RA, Nicoll RA; The opioid peptide dynorphin mediates heterosynaptic depression of hippocampal mossy fibre synapses and modulates long-term potentiation; Nature, 362:423-427, 1993.
ID 215, Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
EPI 284, Epidemiology of Neurologic Diseases