Emily Oken

Professor in the Department of Nutrition

Department of Nutrition


Dr. Oken is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.  She practices as a Primary Care Physician at the Gretchen and Edward Fish Center for Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she pursues her interest in medical care for women before, during, and after pregnancy.

Dr. Oken’s research focuses on the influence of nutrition and other modifiable factors during pregnancy and early childhood on long-term maternal and child health, especially cardiometabolic health and cognitive development.  She has also led a number of studies examining predictors and sequelae of maternal overweight, weight gain, and related conditions such as gestational diabetes mellitus in the peripartum period.  Her work on the toxicant risks and nutrient benefits of prenatal fish consumption has influenced national guidelines for fish consumption during pregnancy, helping to shift the previous focus of risk-only or benefit-only studies to a broader emphasis on the overall health effects of fish consumption for mother and baby.   She has also published widely on perinatal influences on child health including asthma and atopy.  In support of this work she has led longitudinal studies commencing in the peripartum period and following mothers and children throughout childhood.  She is co-Principal Investigator of Project Viva, a unique US pre-birth cohort study that has followed pregnant women and their children since 1999.  She is also PI and co-leader of the team assessing cardio-metabolic, respiratory, and neurocognitive outcome measures on children enrolled 1996-7 in the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT), a cluster-randomized trial of breastfeeding promotion in the Republic of Belarus.


Dr. Oken’s commitment to mentorship has been recognized with a mid-career development grant from NICHD and an HMS Young Mentor Award. Within the Department of Population Medicine, she is Director of Faculty Development and site director for the Harvard General Medicine fellowship.  At Harvard Medical School she is a Peabody Society Research Fellow.  At Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) she is core faculty member for the Summer Training in Academic Research and Scholarship (STARS) Program, which fosters underrepresented minority students considering future careers in the biomedical sciences.


Dr. Oken received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1996 and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the Harvard Combined Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program.  She completed her fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard Medicine School and obtained her Master’s degree in public health from Harvard School of Public Health in 2003.