Research Team

Current Team Members

Postdoctoral Positions:

Laura P _PhotoLaura Pimpin

Laura received her MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and is currently completing a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology at the Medical Research Council, University of Cambridge, UK. Her research interests lie in evaluating the impact of childhood nutrition on child and adult health outcomes.

Colin headshotColin Rehm

Colin received his PhD and MPH degrees, both in Epidemiology, from the University of Washington. His previous work evaluated the economic aspects of diet and the role of food costs in social disparities in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Current research interests include: 1) developing approaches to estimate the costs of population-based dietary policies and interventions and 2) conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses to quantify the potential benefits of dietary polices and interventions.

Marcia OttoMarcia

Marcia received her MS in Environmental Science from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She completed her PhD at the University of Texas School of Public Health with focus on micronutrient intakes and their relationships with inflammation and cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes in a multiethnic population. Marcia’s research interests are on the effects of different aspects of diet and diet quality on cardiovascular and metabolic health. Her current research projects include evaluating the effects of circulating fatty acids on cardiovascular disease incidence and progression, and the development of novel metrics to characterize dietary diversity and quality and their relation to cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk.

Liana Del GobboLiana Del Gobbo

Liana received her PhD in Human Nutrition at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Her research interests include: 1) the role of dietary minerals and biomarkers in cardiovascular disease risk and 2) public health interventions to prevent the development of chronic disease. Her current project involves evaluating the effects of key nutrients and dietary patterns on cardiometabolic risk using cohort data and meta-analysis.

Gitanjali SinghGita

Gita is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. She received her SB degree in Chemistry at MIT, her PhD in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and her MPH in Quantitative Methods at Harvard School of Public Health. She has combined her backgrounds in basic science and quantitative population science to examine global distributions of metabolic and dietary risk factors as part of the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD), Risk Factors, and Injuries project.  Her current work focuses on elucidating the complex relationship between diet,  metabolic risk factors, and chronic disease both using data collected as part of the GBD project, and in meta-analyses of the primary literature.

Jessica SmithJessica

Jessica received her PhD in Physiology and Endocrinology at the Université Laval in Québec, Canada. Her research interests include: 1) obesity prevention through diet and lifestyle, 2) the role of specific foods in long-term weight change in adults, 3) the metabolic consequences of obesity, and 4) the role of excess adiposity and body fat distribution in the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Her current research focuses on the associations between diet and lifestyle and long-term weight change in the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II and Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study.

Ashkan AfshinAshkan

Ashkan is a postdoctoral fellow at the department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. His research interests include population prevention of cardiovascular disease, in particular global policies related to diet and lifestyle. During his time at Harvard, he has worked on several research projects, including the collaborating as a key author on an American Heart Association systematic review and scientific statement related to policy measures for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; leading a systematic review and meta-analysis on nuts and legumes consumption and the risk of cardiovascular and diabetes; and an original work he has led on dietary consumption patterns in the Middle East and North Africa as part of the WHO Global Burden of Diseases project. In addition, he has served as the co-investigator in two other projects including a systematic review and meta-analysis on food quality and food price; and a systematic review of the magnitude of the effects of dietary risk factors on development of cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Ashkan is currently conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis on effectiveness of mass media campaigns to improve dietary behaviors and leading a systematic review on the effectiveness of food pricing strategies on dietary consumption patterns.

Predoctoral Positions:

Qianyi WangQianyi

Qianyi is a doctorate student at the Harvard School of Public Health, majoring in Cardiovascular Epidemiology. Her research interests are the effects of dietary factors on risk of cardiovascular disease. More specifically, she is interested in investigating the association between trans fatty acids (TFAs), originate from partial hydrogenated vegetable oil, and cardiovascular risk factors as well as disease outcomes.  Her current projects involve using the Cardiovascular Health Study database to evaluate relationships of plasma phospholipid TFA biomarkers with total mortality, cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular cause of deaths, as well as incidence of stroke and total coronary heart disease. In addition, she is also involved in “The Cohorts of Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE)” Consortium to investigate associations between TFA biomarkers and incidence of type-2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2), as well as the potential effect modifiers (age, gender, race, BMI and major susceptible genetic loci for DM-2) of such associations.

Lauren TanzLauren Tanz

Lauren is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology.  Her interests include the effect of lifestyle factors, particularly dietary factors, and socioeconomic status on cardiovascular disease and obesity.  She is also interested in the burden of cardiovascular disease in Africa and global policy.  She is currently leading a systematic review and meta-analysis on the local built environment and dietary behaviors and is involved in a project investigating price elasticity and demand for foods and beverages.

Wenjie's photoWenjie Ma

Wenjie is currently a masters student in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, and she will join the ScD program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology in the Fall of 2014. Her research interests include, the effects of different nutrients, foods, and biomarkers on cardiometabolic health. Her current research focuses on the association of fatty acids in the de novo lipogenesis pathway with metabolic risk factors and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Cardiovascular Health Study. She is also involved in a systematic review of the effectiveness of personalized health technologies for improving diet and reducing obesity in the US.

Research Assistants:

Shahab KhatibzadehShahab

Shahab is an MD from Tehran University of Medical Sciences who graduated from Harvard School of Public Health with MPH in Quantitative Methods in 2010. His research interests are the effect of lifestyle, especially dietary habits, on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers. His current projects are: 1) Global Burden of Nutrition and Chronic Disease; which aims to measure the impact of dietary factors and nutrients on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers at the national levels for the world; and 2) Global Dietary Habits among Women, Price and Income Elasticities, and Validity of Food Balance Sheets; which focuses on systematic evaluation of dietary quality among adult women, its economical determinants, and measurement considerations.

Siyi_HeadShotSiyi  Shangguan

Siyi is an MD who has completed her internal medicine residency training at Peking University Third Hospital. After receiving an MPH, concentrated in Global Health from Harvard School of Public Health, she joined the cardiovascular epidemiology research team as a research assistant. Siyi has participated in three regional and global studies about food policies, dietary risk factors, eating behaviors, and health outcomes. She is now leading a meta-analysis on food labeling effectiveness, and is also actively involved in the Gates Global Dietary Intakes and Diseases project.


Peilin ShiPeilin Shi

Peilin joined Dr. Mozaffarian’s research group as a statistician in 2009. Before coming to the Harvard School of Public Health, he was at the Aging Brain Center, Hebrew Senior Life in Boston. He moved from Canada to the United States with his family in 2007. While in Canada, he was a research associate at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, starting from 2004. Between 2002 and 2004, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Victoria. He also taught at Camosun College, Victoria, briefly in 2002. Before obtaining his PhD degree in Canada, he was an associate professor at the Department of Mathematics, Harbin Institute of Technology, China. Currently, he is involved in the quantitative analyses of the risks of mercury exposure, and its relationship to incidents of diabetes, hypertension, and cognitive decline.

Tao HouTao

Tao joined the Cardiovascular Disease Working Group in September 2007. Before coming to Harvard, he was a research associate at Duval County Health Department in Jacksonville, Florida. His current projects focus on: 1) the Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Prevention of Post-operative Atrial Fibrillation (OPERA) trial and 2) diet and long-term weight change in Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II and Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study.  Tao has an MPH degree from the University of South Florida.

iphone5photos 002Frederick Cudhea

Fred received his PhD in Biostatistics from Harvard University, where he developed methods for modelling and performing quantitative risk assessment on hierarchical outcomes in developmental toxicity assays. He joined Dr. Mozaffarian’s  group in 2014 and  is currently working on developing a Bayesian hierarchical model to impute means of dietary and nutritional factors for the Global Dietary Database.

Junior Research Fellows:

Masha headshotMasha Leah Shulkin

Masha is a junior research fellow in the department of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. She received her BS from the University of Michigan and joined Dr. Mozaffarian’s group in 2014. Her current work focuses on evaluating nutrient intake and global dietary patterns for the Global Burden of Disease project.

Sepideh_HeadshotSepideh Ashrafzadeh 

Sepideh received her BS degree in Biomolecular Sciences with a minor in International Studies/Global Health from the University of Michigan in Spring 2014. During her time as an undergraduate, she helped catalogue medical devices for the Global Health Medical Device Compendium, which is an inventory of medical devices for resource-limited countries published on, as well as wrote culturally-relevant, diabetes self-care pamphlets and a book for people with type II diabetes. Since joining the group in June 2014, she has begun working on the Global Dietary Database project, where her responsibilities include 1) survey identification 2) survey quality assessment and 3) data evaluation for quantifying global dietary intakes among adults, youth, and mothers.

Administrative and Clinical Trial Support Staff:

Namasha SchellingNamasha 1

Namasha was hired in February 2011 as the Project Coordinator and Staff Assistant to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian in the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Program. Before coming to Harvard, she was an Environmental Health Organizer at Clean Water Action. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelors in Science in 2006 and received a Masters from Harvard Extension in Environmental Management in 2010.

 Visiting Scientists:

pkg_util_imgMaria Laura Louzada

Maria Laura received her MS in Health Sciences from the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre, Brazil. She is currently doing her PhD in Nutrition and Public Health at the University of São Paulo under the supervision of Professor Carlos Monteiro. Her current research project includes the evaluation of the consumption of ultra-processed food products in Brazil and its association with the prevalence of obesity.

Dani HeadshotMaría Daniela Defagó

Daniela received her BSc in Nutrition and her PhD in Health Sciences at National University of Córdoba, Argentina, which had a focus in fatty acids and chronic diseases. She completed her postdoctoral training in cardiovascular epidemiology at Tulane University, New Orleans. Her current position is a researcher at the Center for Excellence in Cardiovascular Health (Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy -IECS-, Buenos Aires) and as professor and researcher at the National University of Córdoba. Her current research projects include, food pattern analysis related to cardiovascular disease risk factors, and novel nutritional biomarkers related to cardiometabolic health.

NataliaNatalia Elorriaga

Natalia received her BSc in Nutrition at the University of Buenos Aires. She is finishing her Masters in Clinical Effectiveness at the same University. Natalia´s current positions are a researcher at the Center for Excellence in Cardiovascular Health (Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy -IECS-, Buenos Aires) and an assistant professor at University of Buenos Aires. Her current research projects include, dietary pattern analysis and other aspects of diet related to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Past Team Members:

Postdoctoral Positions

Renata Micha                    Jyrki Virtanen                       Kyong Park

Jason Wu                          Fumiaki Imamura


Martin Lajous                    Deirdre Banel                        Goodarz Danaei

Shadi Kalantarian          Anahita Ghorbani                 Pattra Wirojratana

Mayuree Rao                     Divay Chandra                        Sarah Wallace

Luisa Soares-Miranda


Hongyan Huang

Clinical Trial Support Staff

Sarah Lynn King               Kristen Mills