Manuela Orjuela is a molecular epidemiologist and pediatric oncologist whose research focuses on gene-nutrient/ environment interactions during pregnancy and early childhood and the development of later genetic and epigenetic changes in childhood disease. She leads a multidisciplinary team examining folate pathway metabolism and risk for retinoblastoma in collaboration with investigators in Mexico, and Canada, including the Hospital Infantil de Mexico, the Hospital de Pediatria (IMSS), the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (INSP), the Jean Mayer USDA at Tufts, and the University of Toronto. With the Columbia CCCEH, she leads a collaboration examining specific pre-leukemic genetic changes with the Leukemia Research Laboratory of the UK Institute for Cancer Research, and with the Combustion Products and Persistent Pollutants Biomonitoring Laboratory CDC examining PAH exposure and clastogenesis. In collaboration with INSP researchers, Dr Orjuela is involved in multiple studies assessing dietary intake in Mexico and in recent Mexican immigrants. She is a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma team in Pediatric Oncology and leads an NCI funded Cancer Center project to facilitate understanding of genetics in low literacy Latino immigrants. Interests: gene-nutrient interactions; one carbon donor metabolism; methylation; nutrient and environmental exposures during early life and later genetic and epigenetic effects; dietary assessment in Mexico and in US Latino populations; effects of acculturation and early life migration on nutrient/ environmental exposures in US Latinos. Language skills: Spanish(native), fluent in French, Italian, German
ScM, 1996, Harvard School of Public Health (Epidemiology)
MD, , Yale University
BA, , Yale University (Spanish)
Investigator and Member of Executive Committtee
Member, Columbia Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan
ScientificDirector, Community & Ambulatory Research & Enrollment (CARE), Herbert Irving Cancer Center
Faculty Affiliate, Mexican Studies Center
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Latin American Studies
Member, Children's Oncology Group, (NHL committee, Epidemiology Committee, Retinoblastoma Committee)
Member, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Molecular Epidemiology Committee
Member, NCI Brain Tumor Epidemiology Consortium (BTEC)
Member, NIH Study Section: Epidemiology of Cancer (EPIC)
Honors & Awards
Dr. Alexandro Aguirre Prize, Sociedad Latinoamericana de Oncologia Pediatrica, 1998
American Association for Cancer Research Minority Scholar: Cancer Prevention, 2002
Invited Lecturer First International Symposium on Retinoblastoma, Campinas Brazil, March 2003
Areas of Expertise
Child Health and Development, Cancer, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Immigrant Health, Molecular Epidemiology, Hunger/Food Insecurity, Nutrition, Epigenetics, Gene-Environment Interactions, Genetic Susceptibility, Global Health, Poverty
Select Urban Health Activities
COMIDITA (Cognitive Outcomes Mexican Immigrants Dietary Intake Toddler Assessment): In collaboration with co-PI Dr. Helena Duch in the Department of Population and Family Health, COMIDITA examines the relationship between toddler nutrition and neurocognitive outcomes in children of recent Mexican immigrants. We are examining the relationship between specific micronutrients and children's performance in neurocognitive assessments. The project involves Evelyn Berger-Jenkins of the Department of Pediatrics, and Carmen Rodriguez, Director of Columbia's Head Start, with advising from Fabiola Mejia-Rodriguez at the INSP in Mexico, and Ligi Paul at the Jean Mayer USDA Nutrition Laboratories, Tufts University. We have received pilot funding the Institute of Latin American Studies, and a planning grant (CaMPR) from the CTSA.
Migration and Diet in Latinos: an Evaluation of Comprando Rico y Sano(CRyS), a CBPR based approach, funded by the Community Engagement Resource (CECR) of the Columbia CTSA. We are working in partnership with our community partner the Mexican Coalition, to evaluate the dietary impact of participation in workshops following the National Council of La Raza curriculum designed to improve healthy grocery purchasing. Our joint project works with community health workers and focuses on Mexican immigrants in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan. CAMINANDO Children and adolescents migrating independently neuropsychological assessment neighborhood diet and outcomes We are a multidisciplinary working group examining issues relevant to the migration of the unaccompanied minors coming from Central America and Mexico to the New York area. We are newly collaborating with the center for the study of Migrants in Transit at the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Mexico's work on nutrition in young migrants traveling through central Mexico.
Select Global Activities
EpiRbMx: Epidemiology of sporadic Retinoblastoma in Mexico, Mexico: This project examines the role that gene- nutrient interactions play in the development of retinoblastoma and RB1 genetic and epigenetic changes. We examine the effect of early life exposure to dietary intake of folate/folic acid, genetic variation in metabolism of folate and genetic and epigenetic changes in RB1 and in the development of sporadic retinoblastoma in central Mexico. A collaboration with the Hospital Infantil de Mexico, the Nutrition Epidemiology group of the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, the Hospital de Pediatria Siglo XXI of the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS), and the Instituto de Fisiologia Celular of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico(UNAM).
Prenatal Exposures and Procarcinogenic Mutations: This project evaluates pre-natal environmental exposures that may increase the risk of childhood ALL. We propose to measure chromosomal aberrations a subset of newborns from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) Prospective Cohort Study to gain a greater understanding of the mechanism underlying the development of the first hit in ALL, and to identify exposures that may be causally associated with the development of intermediate genetic changes. A collaboration with the CCCEH and the Institute for Cancer Research, Surrey, UK
Orjuela MA, Cabrera-Munoz L, Paul L, Ramirez-Ortiz MA, Liu X, Chen J, Mejia-Rodriguez F, Medina-Sanson A, Diaz-Carreno S, Suen IH, Selhub J, Ponce-Castaneda MV. Risk of retinoblastoma is associated with a maternal polymorphism in dihydrofolatereductase (DHFR) and prenatal folic acid intake. Cancer. 2012 May 30. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27621. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22648968.
JCaravanos; M Tellez-Rojo; A Cantoral; RKobrosly; D Estrada; M Orjuela; SGualtero; A Rivera; RFuller. Historical Review of Blood Lead Levels in Mexico and Implications for Pediatric Burden of Disease Ann Glob Health. 2014 Jul-Aug;80(4):269-77. doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Nov 25. PubMed PMID: 25459328.
MejiaRodriguez F, Orjuela M, Amaya D, Garcia-Guerra A, Neufeld LM. Validation of a novel method for retrospectively estimating nutrient intake during pregnancy using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Maternal and Child Health Journal epub 24nov2011 DOI: 10.1007/s10995-011-0912-8.
Mejia-Rodriguez, F, Neufeld LM, Amaya D, Garcia, Guerra A, Orjuela, M Validation of a food frequency questionnaire for retrospective estimation of diet during the first 2 years of life, Matern Child Health J. 2014 Jan;18(1):268-85. doi: 10.1007/s10995-013-1263-4. PubMed PMID: 23532627; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3752306.DOI: 10.1007/s10995-013-1263-4
Orjuela M, Liu X, Miller RL, Warburton D, Tang DL, Jobanputra V, Hoepner L, Suen IH, Diaz-Carreno S, Li Z, Sjodin A, Perera F. Urinary napthol metabolites and chromosomal aberrations in 5 yr old children. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 May 9. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22573794.
Ramirez-Ortiz M, Ponce-Castaneda MV, Cabrera-Munoz ML, Medina-Sanson A, Liu X, Orjuela M . Diagnostic delay and socio-demographic predictors of stage at diagnosis and mortality in unilateral and bilateral retinoblastoma Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev;February 12, 2014;doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-1069 PubMed PMID: 24521997; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4040273.
Lovasi, G.S., Eldred-Skemp, N., Quinn, J., Chang, H., Rauh, V., Rundle, A., Orjuela, M.A., Perera, F. Assessing Neighborhood Social Context and Individual Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons as Determinants of Age 5 Cognitive Test Scores. Journal of Child and Family Studies, epub Feb 2013. (doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9731-4)
Orjuela M, Ponce V, Ridaura C, Lecona, E., Leal, C., Abramson, D., Orlow, I., Gerald W, Cordon-Cardo C Presence of Human Papilloma Virus in tumor tissue from children with retinoblastoma: an alternative mechanism for tumor development. Clinical Cancer Research 6 4010-6 2000
Orjuela MA, Liu X, Warburton D, Siebert AL, Cujar C, Tang D, Jobanputra V, Perera FP. Prenatal PAH exposure is associated with chromosome-specific aberrations in cord blood. Mutat Res. 703(2) 108-14 2010
Orjuela MA, Alobeid B, Liu X, Siebert AL, Kott ER, Addonizio LJ, Morris E, Garvin JH, Lobritto SJ, Cairo MS. CD20 expression predicts survival in paediatric post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) following solid organ transplantation. Br J Haematol. 2011 Mar;152(6):733-42. Epub 2011 Jan 30. PubMed PMID: 21275950.