Frederica P. Perera is professor of Environmental Health Sciences and serves as director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health and of the Disease Investigation Through Specialized Clinically-Oriented Ventures in Environmental Research (DISCOVER) Center. Dr. Perera pioneered the field of molecular epidemiology, beginning with studies of cancer and is now applying molecular techniques within studies of pregnant women and their children. Her areas of specialization include prevention of environmental risks to children, molecular epidemiology, cancer prevention, environment-susceptibility interactions in cancer, developmental damage, asthma, and risk assessment. She is the author of over 200 publications and has received numerous honors, including the first Irving J. Selikoff Cancer Research Award, The Ramazzini Institute (1995); Doctoris Honoris Causa, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland (2004); Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2005); and CEHN (Children's Environmental Health Network) Award (2008).
Healthy Schools, Healthy Networks Award, 2008 and CEHN (Children's Environmental Health Network) Award, 2008
Distinguished Lecturer, National Cancer Institute, Occupational and Environmental Cancer, 2002
Jagiellonian University Medical College Medal for leadership in Molecular Epidemiology, 2002
First Children's Environmental Health Award, The Pew Center for Children's Health and the Environment, 1999
Newsweek, The Century Club Award, for being one of 100 leaders who will make a difference in the next millennium, 1997
Selected Editorial Boards
World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel, 2004-
Committee on Emerging Issues and Data on Environmental Contaminants, The National Academies, 2003-
Selected New York City Activities:
Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health Project URL:http://www.ccceh.org
The Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) conducts community-based research in the United States and overseas to study the health effects of prenatal and early postnatal exposures to common urban pollutants. The overall aim of the research is to prevent environmentally related disease in children - specifically asthma, cancer, and neurocognitive impairment. The Center's major studies involve mothers and children in New York City, including Northern Manhattan and the WTC area, Krakow, Poland, and Chongqing, China. Together, these studies provide a unique opportunity to assess the effects of environmental toxicants on children's health and development across a wide range of exposure levels, ethnicities and socioeconomic strata.
Mother's and Children Study in Northern Manhattan
The research study, which began in 1998, examines the health effects of exposure in pregnant women and babies to air pollutants such as vehicle exhausts, commercial fuel burning, tobacco smoke, residential pesticides, and cockroach and mouse allergens. The study focuses on a sample of 700 low-income mothers of color and their children living in the New York City neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Harlem, and the South Bronx, where rates of asthma are the highest in the nation, and rates of low birth weight are higher than in the rest of New York City. African Americans and Latinos in these communities also represent high-risk groups for adverse birth outcomes, impaired development, and some types of cancer. Through this research, CCCEH investigators aim to learn how exposure to common environmental pollutants affects children's risk of asthma, developmental delay, and cancer.
Healthy Home Healthy Child Community Education Campaign
CCCEH is dedicated to raising public awareness of the health risks to children exposed to common air pollutants, and methods for minimizing risk. Investigators work closely with a Community Advisory Board of eight community-based health service and environmental advocacy organizations to deliver practical information to local community residents in an effort to increase community awareness of environmental hazards and alert families to methods they can use to protect children from toxicants in the home. This community education campaign, Healthy Home Healthy Child, is disseminated through workshops with parents living in Washington Heights, Harlem, and the South Bronx, community conferences in which CCCEH scientific investigators present research results, and low-literate print materials distributed to families via local pediatric and obstetric clinics and private practices, community-based organizations, businesses, and houses of worship. This information is also shared with the broader general public through the Center's web site (www.ccceh.org) and popular media coverage (television, radio, and print) of newly released research findings. The Center's lead community partner organization is West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT). CCCEH and WE ACT are currently working together to expand Healthy Home Healthy Child to educate local physicians treating pregnant women and children, and train community members to organize around initiatives to improve the environmental safety of low-income urban communities of color.
Selected Global Activities:
Mothers and Children Study in Poland
Krakow, Poland is a city with high levels of combustion-generated pollutants from coal burning, home heating, industry and traffic, as well as high rates of infant mortality, low birth weight, and cancer. CCCEH investigators are working with a research team from Jagiellonian University in Krakow to study the developmental and respiratory effects, and potential cancer risk, from these air pollutants in a group of 400 pregnant women and their children. Exposure is measured by individual monitoring of pollutants in the air that women breather during pregnancy, and the collection of biological samples to study various biomarkers.
Mothers and Children Study in China
The Tong Liang Power Plant in Chongqing, China is the major air pollution source in the area, burning more than 20,300 tons of coal per year. It will soon be shut down and the energy needs met by cleaner alternative sources. This study examines the effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants from the plant on the health of pregnant women and their newborns living in the immediate area of the plant. Two groups of mothers and children will be enrolled, one before, and the other after the plant shuts down as a coal-burning facility. This study will determine the benefits to children of reducing prenatal exposure to such toxic air pollutants. Biological samples are collected from mothers and newborns for analysis of biomarkers. A Geographic Information System is used to compare exposure levels of energy-related pollutants and related health effects. The results of this research will help formulate government policy to reduce the health costs of air pollution, which also reducing global climate-altering emissions in China.
Perera FP and Weinstein IB. "Molecular epidemiology and carcinogen DNA adduct detection: New approaches to studies of human cancer causation." Journal of Chronic Diseases 35 581-600 1982
Perera F, Hemminki K, Grzybowska E, Motykiewicz G, Michalska J, Santella R, Young TL, Dickey C, Brandt Rauf P, DeVivo I, Blaner W, Tsai W Y, Chorazy M. "Molecular and genetic damage from environmental pollution in Poland." Nature 360 256-258 1992
Tang D, Phillips DH, Stampfer M, Mooney LA, Hsu Y, Cho S, Ma J, Cole KJ, She MN, Perera FP. "Association
between carcinogen-DNA adducts in white blood cells and subsequent risk of lung cancer in the physicians
health study." Cancer Research 61 6708-6712 2001
Perera FP, Rauh V, Tsai W-Y, Kinney P, Camann D, Barr D, Bernert T, Garfinkel R, Tu Y-H, Diaz D, Dietrich J, and Whyatt RM. "Effects of transplacental exposure to environmental pollutants on birth outcomes in a multi-ethnic population." Environmental Health Perspectives 111 201-205 2003
Bocskay KA, Orjuela MA, Tang D, Xinhua L, Warburton DP, Perera FP. "Chromosomal aberrations in cord blood are associated with prenatal exposure to carcinogenic polycyclyic aromatic hydrocarbons." Cancer Epidemiology of Biomarkers and Prevention 14 506-511 2005
Perera FP, Tang D, Whyatt R, Lederman SA, Jedrychowski W. "DNA Damage from Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons measured by benzo[a]pyrene-DNA adducts in mothers and newborns from Northern Manhattan, the World Trade Center area, Poland, and China." Cancer Epidemiology of Biomarkers and Prevention 14 709-714 2005
Perera FP, Rauh V, Whyatt RM, Tsai WY, Tang D, Diaz D, Hoepner L, Barr D, Tu YH, Camann D, Kinney P. "Effect of prenatal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on neurodevelopment in the first 3 years of life among inner-city children." Environmental Health Perspectives 114(8) 1287-1292 2006
Vineis P, Perera F. "Molecular epidemiology and biomarkers in etiologic cancer research: the new in light of the old." Cancer Epidemiolgy, Biomarkers and Prevention 16(10) 1918-1920 2007
Jedrychowski W, Perera F, Mroz E, Edwards S, Flak E, Bernert JT, Mrozek-Budzyn D, Sowa A, Musia³ A. "Fetal exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke assessed by maternal self-reports and cord blood cotinine: prospective cohort study in Krakow." Maternal Child Health Journal1092-7875 2008
Perera F, Li TY, Zhou ZJ, Yuan T, Chen YH, Qu L, Rauh V, Zhang Y, Tang D. "Benefits of reducing prenatal exposure to coal burning pollutants to children's neurodevelopment in China." Environmental Health Perspectives 2008