Research Projects

Teaching Kitchen Collaborative

Launched in 2016 and jointly led by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – Department of Nutrition, the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative is an invitational network of thought leading organizations using teaching kitchen facilities as catalysts of enhanced personal and public health across medical, corporate, school, and community settings.
Learn more.

Past Projects

Night Shift Work

My research efforts through the Channing Division of Network Medicine have focused on the modifiable risk factors of rotating night shift work and sleep along with the biomarker of melatonin. I worked on a study of rotating night shift work and risk of coronary heart disease in the Nurses’ Health Study with 24 years of follow up that was published in JAMA. In this study, women with five or more years of rotating night shift work at baseline experienced a significantly higher risk of developing CHD, compared to women who never worked rotating night shifts. I am also first author on other investigations exploring night shift work, sleep duration, and risk of colorectal cancer as well as multiple sclerosis

Nutrition Behaviors

My research in nutrition considered how both food and supplement use impacted disease risk. I have conducted research into calcium intake and multivitamin use – both topics of my dissertation work – as well as caffeine and alcohol consumption and vitamin D intake. Results of my work have led to easily implementable public health messages around dietary and lifestyle changes and their association with reduced risk of disease. For example, I have reported that very low calcium intake is associated with precancerous adenoma in the colorectal; however high intakes do not appear to reduce risk. My paper on multivitamin use shows that even short durations of supplement use are associated with reduced risk of these adenoma. These studies have been cited by other authors and I have presented my findings at International conferences.

Viral and Other Environmental Exposures

I analyzed biomarkers such as antibodies against tetanus, diphtheria, Epstein-Barr virus, and infectious mononucleosis and risk of multiple sclerosis while working in the Neuroepidemiology group at Harvard. These investigations support many of the findings of the researchers in this group which found Epstein-Barr virus and infectious mononucleosis increases risk of multiple sclerosis, however the timing of these exposures is important in terms of disease risk. My other work in environmental exposures was conducted in the Environmental sciences group at Johns Hopkins School of Public Heather where we documented the physical and mental health experiences of the rescue and recovery workers at the World Trade Center disaster site. We also analyzed area and personal monitoring devices for air borne contaminents and risk of disease. The increased risk of respiratory illness was among these workers helped shine a light on important occupational health safe guards which should be implemented to help protect these workers from harmful outcomes when in disaster sites.