Peter James

Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health

Department of Environmental Health


Trained in environmental health and epidemiology, Peter has focused his research on estimating the influence of spatial factors, including exposure to nature, the built environment, the food environment, air pollution, light pollution, noise, and socioeconomic factors, on health behaviors and chronic disease. He has more than a decade of experience working with large prospective cohort studies, including the Nurses’ Health Studies, the Framingham Heart Study, and the Southern Community Cohort Study, where he has aided in the creation of many spatial variables and linked them to health data. More recently, he is developing methodologies to assess real-time, high spatio-temporal resolution objective measures of location and behavior by linking smartphone-based global positioning systems (GPS) and consumer wearable device accelerometry data to understand how spatial factors influence health behaviors.


I have developed a course on Built Environment, Nature, and Health. The built environment – our homes, schools, businesses, streets and sidewalks, and transportation options – and the natural environment – features such as vegetation, water, parks, and open spaces – directly and indirectly impact health and well-being. The places where we live, learn, work, and play can determine our exposure to pollution, influence our health behaviors, and ultimately drive disease risk. The built and natural environment can contribute to health outcomes that are the major contributors to morbidity and mortality in the US, and increasingly globally.This course will be taught for the first time in Fall 2 2019.

Recent Publications

Jia P, Lakerveld J, Wu J, Stein A, Root ED, Sabel CE, Vermeulen R, Remais JV, Chen X, Brownson RC, Amer S, Xiao Q, Wang L, Verschuren WMM, Wu T, Wang Y, James P. Top 10 Research Priorities in Spatial Lifecourse Epidemiology. Environ Health Perspect. 2019 Jul;127(7):74501. doi: 10.1289/EHP4868. Epub 2019 Jul 4. PubMed PMID
Full KM, Moran K, Carlson J, Godbole S, Natarajan L, Hipp A, Glanz K, Mitchell J, Laden F, James P, Kerr J. Latent profile analysis of accelerometer-measured sleep, physical activity, and sedentary time and differences in health characteristics in adult women. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 27;14(6):e0218595. doi 10.1371/journal.pone
Trudel-Fitzgerald C, James P, Kim ES, Zevon ES, Grodstein F, Kubzansky LD. Prospective associations of happiness and optimism with lifestyle over up to two decades. Prev Med. 2019 Jun 17:105754. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105754. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31220509.
VoPham T, Bertrand KA, James P, DuPré NC, Vieira V, Tamimi RM, Laden F, Hart JE. Ultraviolet radiation exposure and breast cancer risk in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Environmental Epidemiology. In Press.
Yitshak-Sade M, James P, Kloog I, Hart JE, Schwartz JD, Laden F, Lane KJ, Fabian MP, Fong KC, Zanobetti A. Neighborhood Greenness Attenuates the Adverse Effect of PM(2.5) on Cardiovascular Mortality in Neighborhoods of Lower Socioeconomic Status. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Mar 6;16(5). pii: E814. doi: 10.3390/ij
DuPré NC, Hart JE, Holmes MD, Poole EM, James P, Kraft P, Laden F, Tamimi RM.  Particulate Matter and Traffic-Related Exposures in Relation to Breast Cancer Survival. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019 Apr;28(4):751-759. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-18-0803. Epub 2019 Jan 15. PubMed PMID: 30647065; PubMed Central PMCID:
Ji JS, Zhu A, Bai C, Wu CD, Yan L, Tang S, Zeng Y, James P. Residential greenness and mortality in oldest-old women and men in China: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Planet Health. 2019 Jan;3(1):e17-e25. doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(18)30264-X. PubMed PMID: 30654864; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6358124.
Jia P, Stein A, James P, Brownson RC, Wu T, Xiao Q, Wang L, Sabel CE, Wang Y. Use of Earth Observation Methods in Noncommunicable Diseases Research. Annual Review of Public Health. In Press.
O’Malley AJ, James P, MacKenzie TA, Byun J, Subramanian SV, Block JP. Modeling a bivariate residential-workplace neighborhood effect when estimating the effect  of proximity to fast-food establishments on body mass index. Stat Med. 2019 Mar 15;38(6):1013-1035. doi: 10.1002/sim.8039. Epub 2018 Nov 20. PubMed PMID: 30460712;
Kim ES, James P, Zevon ES, Trudel-Fitzgerald C, Kubzansky LD, Grodstein F. Optimism and Healthy Aging in Women and Men. Am J Epidemiol. 2019 Jun 1;188(6):1084-1091. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz056. PubMed PMID: 30834429; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6545271.
Marinac CR, Quante M, Mariani S, Weng J, Redline S, Cespedes Feliciano EM, Hipp JA, Wang D, Mitchell JA,* James P.* Associations Between Timing of Meals, Physical Activity, Light Exposure, and Sleep with Body Mass Index in Free-Living Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2019 Mar 1;16(3):214-221. Epub 2019 Feb
Banay RF, James P, Hart JE, Kubzansky LD, Spiegelman D, Okereke OI, Spengler JD, Laden F. Greenness and Depression Incidence among Older Women. Environ Health Perspect. 2019 Feb;127(2):27001. doi: 10.1289/EHP1229. PubMed PMID: 30735068.
Quante M, Mariani S, Weng J, Marinac CR, Kaplan ER, Rueschman M, Mitchell JA,  James P, Hipp JA, Cespedes Feliciano EM, Wang R, Redline S. Zeitgebers and their association with rest-activity patterns. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Feb;36(2):203-213. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2018.1527347. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PubMed PMID: 30365354;PubMed
James P,* Kim ES,* Kubzansky LD, Zevon ES, Trudel-Fitzgerald C, Grodstein F. Optimism and Healthy Aging in Women. Am J Prev Med. 2019 Jan;56(1):116-124. PubMed PMID: 30573140. PMCID: PMC6310050.
Marquet O, Floyd MF, James P, Glanz K, Jennings V, Jankowska MM, Kerr J, Hipp JA. Associations Between Worksite Walkability, Greenness, and Physical Activity Around Work. Environment and Behavior. September 2018. PubMed PMID: In Progress. PMCID: In Progress.
Millstein RA, Oreskevic NM, Quintiliani L, James P, Intille S. The Need for Local, Multidisciplinary Collaborations to Promote Advances in Physical Activity Research and Policy Change: The Creation of the Boston Physical Activity Resource Collaborative (BPARC). Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2018 3(2): 74-77. PubMe
Orstad SL, McDonough MH, James P, Klenosky DB, Laden F, Mattson M, Troped PJ. Neighborhood walkability and physical activity among older women: Tests of mediation by environmental perceptions and moderation by depressive symptoms. Prev Med. 2018 Nov;116:60-67. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.08.008. Epub 2018 Aug 6.  PubMed PMID
Fong KC, Kloog I, Coull BA, Koutrakis P, Laden F, Schwartz JD, James P. Residential Greenness and Birthweight in the State of Massachusetts, USA. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 15(6): 1248. PubMed PMID: 29895795. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC6025231.
Hart JE, Bertrand KA, DuPré N, James P, Vieira VM, VoPham T, Mittleman MR, Tamimi RM, Laden F. Exposure to Hazardous Air Pollutants and Risk of Incident Breast Cancer in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Environmental Health. 2018 Mar 27;17(1):28. PubMed PMID: 29587753. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5870204.
Bezold CP, Banay RF, Coull BA, Hart JE, James P, Kubzansky LD, Missmer SA, Laden F. The relationship between surrounding greenness in childhood and adolescence and depressive symptoms in adolescence and early adulthood. Annals of Epidemiology. 2018 Apr;28(4):213-219. PubMed PMID: 29426730. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC5869153.
Casey JA, James P, Cushing L, Jesdale BM, Morello-Frosch R. Race, Ethnicity, Income Concentration and 10-Year Change in Urban Greenness in the United States. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Dec 10;14(12). PubMed PMID: 29232867. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5750964.
Bezold C, Banay RF, Coull BA, Hart JE, James P, Kubzansky LD, Missmer SA, Laden F. The association between natural environments and depressive symptoms in adolescents living in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2017 Dec 19. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29273301. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC5963277.
Cespedes Feliciano E, Quante M, Weng J, Mitchell J, James P, Marinac C, Mariani S, Redline S, Kerr J, Godbole S, Mantiega A, Wang D, Hipp JA. Actigraphy-Derived Daily Rest-Activity Patterns and Body Mass Index in Community-Dwelling Adults. Sleep. 2017. 40(12). Pubmed PMID: 29029250. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC5804986.
Whitfield GP, Carlson SA, Ussery EN, Watson KB, Berrigan D, Adams MA, James P, Brownson RC, Fulton JE. Environmental Supports for Physical Activity, National Health Interview Survey – 2015. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2018 Feb;54(2):294-298. Pubmed PMID: 29246673. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5866529.
VoPham T, DuPré NC, Tamimi RM, James P, Bertrand KA, Vieira V, Laden F, Hart JE. Environmental radon exposure and breast cancer risk in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Environ Health. 2017 Sep 7;16(1):97. PubMed PMID: 28882148. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5590193.
Murray K, Godbole S, Natarajan L, Full K, Hipp JA, Glanz K, Mitchell J, Laden F, James P, Quante M, Kerr J. The relations between sleep, time of physical activity, and time outdoors among adult women. PLoS One. 2017 Sep 6;12(9):e0182013. PubMed PMID: 28877192. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5587264.
James P, Bertrand KA, Hart JE, Schernhammer E, Tamimi RM, Laden F. Outdoor Light at Night and Breast Cancer Incidence in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2017 Aug 17;125(8):087010. PMID: 28886600. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5783660.
GBD 2016 DALYs and HALE Collaborators. Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 333 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet. 2017 Sep 16;390(10100):1260-1
James P, Seward MW, O’Malley AJ, Subramanian SV, Block JP. Changes in the Food Environment over Time: Examining 40 years of data in the Framingham Heart Study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2017 Jun 24;14(1):84. PMID: PMID: 28646894. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5483254.
Mitchell JA,* Quante M,* Godbole S, James P, Hipp JA, Marinac CR, Mariani S, EM Cespedes Feliciano, Glanz K, Laden F, Wang R, Weng J, Redline S, Kerr J. Variation in Actigraphy-Estimated Rest-Activity Patterns by Demographic Factors. Chronobiology International. 2017 Jun 26:1-15. PMID: 28650674. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC61
James P, Kioumourtzoglou MA, Hart JE, Banay RF, Kloog I, Laden F.  Interrelationships between Walkability, Air Pollution, Greenness, and Body Mass Index. Epidemiology. 2017 Nov;28(6):780-788. PMID: 28767514. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5617802.
Casey JA, Morello-Frosch R, Mennitt DJ, Fristrup K, Ogburn EL, James P. Race/Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, Residential Segregation, and Spatial Variation in Noise Exposure in the Contiguous United States. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2017 Jul 25;125(7):077017. PMID: 28749369. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5744659.
GBD 2015 Healthcare Access and Quality Collaborators. Healthcare Access and Quality Index based on mortality from causes amenable to personal health care in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2015: a novel analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2017 Jul 15;390(10091):231-266. PMID: 28528753. PubMed
James P, Hart JE, Hipp JA, Mitchell JA, Kerr J, Hurvitz PM, Glanz K, Laden F. GPS-based exposure to greenness and walkability and accelerometry-based physical activity. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2017 Apr;26(4):525-532. PMID: 28196848. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5436046.
Troped PJ, Tamura K, McDonough MH, Starnes HA, James P, Ben-Joseph E, Cromley E, Puett R, Melly S, Laden F. Direct and indirect associations between the built environment and leisure and utilitarian walking in older women. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2017 Mar;49(3):617-624. PMID: 27807683.
James P, Hart JE, Banay RF, Laden F, Signorello LB. Built environment and depression in low-income African Americans and Whites. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017 Jan;52(1):74-84. PMID: 27720338. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5167658.
Kerr J, Marinac CR, Ellis K, Godbole S, Hipp JA, Glanz K, Mitchell J, Laden F, James P, Berrigan D. Comparison of accelerometry methods for estimating physical activity. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2016 Oct 14. PMID: 27755355. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5315645.
GBD Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Measuring the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: A baseline analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016 Oct 8;388(10053):1813-50.  PubMed PMID: 27665228. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5055583.
GBD Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016 Oct 8;388(10053):1459-1544. PubMed PMID: 27733281. PubMed Central PMCID:
James P,* Jankowska M,* Marx C, Hart JE, Berrigan D, Kerr J, Hurvitz PM, Hipp JA, Laden F. “Spatial Energetics”: Integrating Data From GPS, Accelerometry, and GIS to Address Obesity and Inactivity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016 51: 792-800. PubMed PMID: 27528538. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5067207.
Mitchell JA, Godbole S, Moran K, Murray K, James P, Laden F, Hipp JA, Kerr J, Glanz K. No evidence of reciprocal associations between daily sleep and physical activity in adult women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2016 48(10): 1950-6. PubMed PMID: 27285490. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5026562.
Hart JE, Bertrand KA, DuPre N, James P, Vieira VM, Tamimi RM, Laden F.  Long- term particulate matter exposures during adulthood and risk of breast cancer incidence in the Nurses’ Health Study II prospective cohort.  Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 25(8): 1274-6.  PubMed PMID: 27257091. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4970
James P, Hart JE, Banay RF, Laden F. Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016 124(9):1344-52. PubMed PMID: 27074702. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5010419.
Tucker-Seeley RD, Bezold CP, James P, Miller M, Wallington SF. Retail pharmacy policy to end the sale of tobacco products: what is the impact on disparity in neighborhood density of tobacco outlets? Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2016 25(9): 1305-10. PubMed PMID: 27302724. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5010482.
Casey JA, James P, Rudolph KE, Wu CD, Schwartz BS. Greenness and birth outcomes in a range of Pennsylvania communities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016 13(3): 311. PubMed PMID: 26978381. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4808974.
Kioumourtzoglou MA, Schwartz J, James P, Dominici F, Zanobetti A. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 and mortality in 207 US cities: Modification by temperature and city characteristics. Epidemiology. 2016 27(2): 221-7. PubMed PMID: 26600257. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4627661.
James P, Weissman J, Wolf J, Mumford K, Conant C, Hwang WT, Taylor L, Glanz K. Comparing log, survey, accelerometry, and GPS data to measure physical activity. American Journal of Health Behavior. 2016 40(1):123-31. PubMed PMID: 26685821. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4866646.
James P, Hart JE, Arcaya MC, Feskanich D, Laden F, Subramanian SV. Neighborhood Self-Selection: The Role of Pre-Move Health Factors on the Post-Move Built and Socioeconomic Environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2015 12(01): 12489-504. PubMed PMID: 26457712. PubMed Central PMCID: PM
James P, Hart JE, Laden F. Neighborhood walkability and particulate air pollution in a nationwide cohort of women. Environmental Research. 2015 142:703-11. PubMed PMID: 26397775. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4627661.
Berrigan B, Hipp JA, Hurvitz PM, James P, Jankowska M, Kerr J, Laden F, Leonard T, McKinnon R, Powell-Wiley TM, Tarlov E, Zenk SN, and the TREC Spatial and Contextual Measures and Methods Working Group. Geospatial and Contextual Approaches to Energy Balance and Health. Annals of GIS. 2015 21(2): 157-68. PubMed PMID: 270768
Starnes HA, Troped PJ, Tamura K, McDonough MH, James P, Laden F. Factorial Validity of an Abbreviated Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Seniors in the Nurses’ Health Study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2014 11(1):126. PubMed PMID: 25301355. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC41973
James P, Ito K, Banay RF, Buonocore JJ, Wood B, Arcaya MC. A Health Impact Assessment of a Proposed Bill to Decrease Speed Limits on Local Roads in Massachusetts (U.S.A.). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014 11(10): 10269-91. PubMed PMID: 25279544. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4210978.
James P, Ito K, Buonocore JJ, Levy JI, Arcaya M. A Health Impact Assessment of Proposed Public Transit Service Cuts and Fare Increases in Boston, Massachusetts. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014 11(8): 8010-24. PubMed PMID: 25105550. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4143846.
 James P, Arcaya MC, Parker DM, Tucker-Seeley R, Subramanian SV. Do minority and poor neighborhoods have higher access to fast-food restaurants in the United States? Health & Place. 2014 29:10-7. PubMed PMID: 24945103. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4783380.
Arcaya M, James P, Rhodes J, Waters MC, Subramanian SV. Urban Sprawl and Body Mass Index Among Displaced Hurricane Katrina Survivors. Preventive Medicine. 2014 Aug;65:40-6.. PubMed PMID: 24732717. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4101042.
Hirsch JA, James P, Robinson JRM, Eastman KM, Conley KD, Evenson KR, Laden F. Using MapMyFitness to Place Physical Activity into Neighborhood Context. Frontiers in Public Health Education and Promotion. 2014 Mar 11;2:19. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 24653982. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3949289.
 James P, Berrigan D, Hart JE, Hipp JA, Hoehner CM, Kerr J, Major JM, Oka M, Laden F. Effects of Buffer Size and Shape on Associations between the Built Environment and Energy Balance. Health & Place. 2014; 27:162-70. PubMed PMID: 24607875. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4028172.
Troped PJ, Starnes HA, Puett RC, Tamura K, Cromley EK, James P, Ben-Joseph E, Melly SJ, Laden F. Relationships Between the Built Environment and Walking and Weight Status Among Older Women in Three U.S. States. J Aging Phys Act. 2013 Mar 26:114-25. PubMed PMID: 23538637. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4186705.
James P, Troped PJ, Hart JE, Joshu CE, Colditz GA, Brownson RC, Ewing R, Laden F. Urban Sprawl, Physical Activity, and Body Mass Index: Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II. Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):369-75. PubMed PMID: 22698015. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3558772.


BA, Earth and Environmental Studies, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

MHS, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

ScD, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health