Virginia Rauh, ScD, has been a member of Columbia's faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Her postdoctoral work in psychiatric epidemiology was supported by NIMH and a career development award from NICHD. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities (MRI, fMRI), a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of ambient air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth. She has worked with other Columbia faculty to study the effects of the World Trade Center disaster on pregnant women and newborns. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups at NIEHS, NICHD, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.
ScD, 1982, Harvard University
MSW, 1972, Smith College School for Social Work
BA, 1969, Middlebury College
Honors & Awards
Research Career Development Award, NIH NICHD; 1994
Wilensky Award, Harvard University School of Public Health, 1980
Annual Presidential Award for Research, Pediatric Academic Societies, 2006.
Research Paper of the Year 2012; Environmental Health Perspectives (NIEHS)
Editor’s Citation for Research Paper of the Year, Society for Behavioral Medicine,1990
Areas of Expertise
Child Health and Development, Low Birth Weight, Minority Health, Social / Cultural Issues, Social Epidemiology, Environmental Risk Factors, Birth Outcomes, Perinatal Epidemiology
Select Urban Health Activities
Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health: This Center is conducting a longitudinal study of the neurotoxic effects of indoor and ambient air pollution on a cohort of mothers and children in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. Outcomes of interest include birth outcomes, physical growth, child neurodevelopment, and child respiratory illness/asthma. The study includes an array of biomarkers of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, environmental tobacco smoke, diesel exhaust and allergens, among others. The cohort of children is being followed for 7-8 years and assessed for possible long-term effects on behavioral adjustment and school performance. The study also includes assessment of exposure to social stressors, such as housing quality and other neighborhood conditions.
Impact of School and Community Conditions on the Academic Performance of Head Start Children: This project evaluates the academic success in the early primary grades of children who have participated in the New York City Head Start program in the preschool years. Critical to this evaluation is the assessment of the communities in which the children reside and the quality of the schools they attend after Head Start. This project involves extensive partnership and collaboration with the New York City Head Start Bureau, Agency for Children and Families.
Impact of the World Trade Center Disaster on the Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Women : This study is evaluating the effects of exposure to air pollutants in the period following the 9/11 fires for women who were pregnant at the time of the event. Both proximity to the site and timing of exposure in pregnancy are considered. Results include extensive biomarker analysis of cord blood samples,face-to-face interviews with mothers and children, and neurocognitive developmental testing of young children.
Select Global Activities
Prevention of Health Effects in Children from Energy-related Air Pollution: An International Collaborative Project : This project investigates the impact of exposure to emissions from coal-burning facilities in selected cities in China on the birth outcomes of pregnant women, before and after the closing of the polluting sites.
Study of Effects of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Environmental Tobacco Smoke in a sample of Polish Women and Newborns , Poland: This project evaluates the impact of air pollution on pregnant women and newborns in two Polish urban areas. Data include biomarkers of exposure and extensive neurodevelopmental testing.
Peterson BS, Rauh VA, Bansal R, Hao X, Toth Z, Nati G, Walsh K, Miller R, Arias F, Semanek D, Perera FP. Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollutants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) on Development of Brain White Matter, Cognition, and Behavior in Later Childhood. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 (in press) PMCID in process
Perera FP, Chang HW, Tang D, Roen EL, Herbstman J, Margolis A, Huang TJ, Miller RL, Wang S, Rauh V. Early-Life Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and ADHD Behavior Problems. PLoS One 9(11) e111670 2014
Rauh VA, Perera FP, Horton MK, Whyatt RM, Bansal R, Hao X, Liu J, Barr DB, Slotkin TA., Peterson BS. Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide. PNAS 109 (20) 7871-7876 2012
Rauh VA, Whyatt RM, Garfinkel R, Andrews H, Hoepner L, Reyes A, Camaan D, Perera FP Developmental effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and material hardship among inner-city children Neurotoxicology and Teratology 26 373-385 2004
Rauh V, Garfinkel R, Perera FP, Andrews H, Barr D, Whitehead D, Tang D, Whyatt RM . Impact of prenatal chlorpyrifos exposure on neurodevelopment in the first three years of life among inner-city children Pediatrics 118 e1845-e1859 2006
Rauh VA, Andrews H, Garfinkel R The contribution of maternal age to racial disparities in birthweight: a multi-level perspective American Journal of Public Health 91 1815-1824 2001
Wallace D, Wallace R, Rauh V Community stress, demoralization, and body mass index: evidence for social signal transduction Social Science & Medicine 56 2467-78 2003
Whyatt RM, Rauh VA, Barr DB, Camaan D, , Andrews HF, Garfinkel R, Hoepner LA, Diaz D, Dietrich J, Reyes A, Tang D, Kinney PL Perera FP Prenatal insecticide exposure, birth weight and length among an urban minority cohort Environmental Health Perspectives 112 1125-32 2004
Lederman SA, Rauh VA, Weiss L, Stein JL, Hoepner LA, Garfinkel R, Becker M, Perera FP The effects of proximity to the WTC in the weeks following 9-11-01 on birth outcomes at three lower Manhattan hospitals Environmental Health Perspectives 112 1772-1778 2004
Rauh V, Arunajadai S, Horton M, Perera F, Hoepner L, Barr DB, Whyatt R. 7-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Pesticide. Environ Health Perspect. Online 21 Apr 2011