Tamarra James-Todd
Primary Faculty

Tamarra James-Todd

Mark and Catherine Winkler Associate Professor of Environmental Reproductive Epidemiology

Environmental Health

Other Positions

Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Epidemiology

Epidemiology

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Director, Superfund Community Engagement Core

Environmental Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Instructor in Medicine

Medicine-Brigham and Women's Hospital

Harvard Medical School


Overview

As an epidemiologist, my research takes a three-way approach to studying and improving women's reproductive and long-term health by: 1) evaluating the role of environmental chemicals on adverse maternal health outcomes; 2) assessing racial/ethnic disparities in environmental chemical exposures and adverse health outcomes; and 3) developing pregnancy and postpartum interventions to improve women's chronic disease risk.

Environmental Health and Pregnancy Complications. Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that can affect our health. Over the course of our lives, these chemicals may have differing effects that could have a greater impact on our health during certain critical and sensitive windows . Furthermore, certain populations, such as women and minorities have higher exposure levels of certain types of chemicals. My research focuses on the role of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals in pregnancy and their effect on a number of relevant pregnancy complications.

Racial Disparities in Environmental Health. A related area of research focuses on racial/ethnic differences in environmental chemical exposures and their contribution to disparities in chronic disease risk. For this, I evaluate both non-pregnant and pregnant populations and assess sources of exposures to certain types of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals. This work has led me to explore the role of black hair care products on risk of certain conditions, such as early age at menarche, as well as other personal care products that contain environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Translational Research in Diabetes and Pregnancy. In collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital, I work on identifying reproductive risk factors of subsequent development of type 2 diabetes and its complications. For this, I have assessed the effect of preterm birth on future development of type 2 diabetes in large cohort studies, including the Nurses' Health Study II and the Black Women's Health Study. I have also designed a number of interventions to reduce future risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women following a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes. I also conduct translational research in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. For this work, I published one of the first studies documenting a rapid decline in blood glucose control during the postpartum period in women with type 1 diabetes, despite excellent blood glucose control during pregnancy. This work has major implications for a woman's future risk of diabetes complications.


Bibliography

Birth outcomes in relation to neighborhood food access and individual food insecurity during pregnancy in the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO)-wide cohort study.

Aris IM, Lin PD, Wu AJ, Dabelea D, Lester BM, Wright RJ, Karagas MR, Kerver JM, Dunlop AL, Joseph CL, Camargo CA, Ganiban JM, Schmidt RJ, Strakovsky RS, McEvoy CT, Hipwell AE, O'Shea TM, McCormack LA, Maldonado LE, Niu Z, Ferrara A, Zhu Y, Chehab RF, Kinsey EW, Bush NR, Nguyen RH, Carroll KN, Barrett ES, Lyall K, Sims-Taylor LM, Trasande L, Biagini JM, Breton CV, Patti MA, Coull B, Amutah-Onukagha N, Hacker MR, James-Todd T, Oken E.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 May. 119(5):1216-1226. PMID: 38431121

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth: A Pooled Study of Sixteen U.S. Cohorts.

Welch BM, Keil AP, Buckley JP, Engel SM, James-Todd T, Zota AR, Alshawabkeh AN, Barrett ES, Bloom MS, Bush NR, Cordero JF, Dabelea D, Eskenazi B, Lanphear BP, Padmanabhan V, Sathyanarayana S, Swan SH, Aalborg J, Baird DD, Binder AM, Bradman A, Braun JM, Calafat AM, Cantonwine DE, Christenbury KE, Factor-Litvak P, Harley KG, Hauser R, Herbstman JB, Hertz-Picciotto I, Holland N, Jukic AMZ, McElrath TF, Meeker JD, Messerlian C, Michels KB, Newman RB, Nguyen RHN, O'Brien KM, Rauh VA, Redmon B, Rich DQ, Rosen EM, Schmidt RJ, Sparks AE, Starling AP, Wang C, Watkins DJ, Weinberg CR, Weinberger B, Wenzel AG, Wilcox AJ, Yolton K, Zhang Y, Ferguson KK.

Environ Health Perspect. 2023 Dec. 131(12):127015. PMID: 38117586


News

Uncovering the dangers of hair products marketed to Black women, girls

A growing body of evidence suggests that chemicals in hair relaxers—products aimed at straightening hair—and other hair products marketed to Black girls and women contain endocrine-disrupting substances linked with early menstruation, reproductive health issues, and cancer. But these…

Hair product safety could depend on where you live

Hair products sold in neighborhoods that are poorer or that have a higher percentage of residents of color were more likely to contain higher levels of hazardous chemicals than products sold in predominantly white and affluent areas, according…

FACETS program steers undergrads toward public health careers

The Fostering Advancement & Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) summer program at Harvard Chan School offers rising junior and senior undergraduate students from underrepresented groups around the country a mix of interdisciplinary coursework, hands-on research, and…