Environmental Life Course Epidemiology

Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology
Associate Dean for Research Resources, MSPH

Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
Director, Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

Program Overview

Life course epidemiology is a relatively new area of inquiry which involves the study of early life circumstances and health outcomes later in life. This relative newness makes it especially important to train the next generation of researchers in the methods and substance of this emerging field and to equip them with tools to move the field forward. Development of methods and substance are particularly relevant to the assessment of environmental exposures and later health outcomes; indeed, studies around the world are assessing relationships with regard to exposures such as endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, and air pollutants. Training in cutting edge methods appropriate to these issues is crucial as many of these studies have not employed methods used by researchers in the life course field.

We call the merging of environmental issues with life course epidemiology, Life Course Environmental Epidemiology. The Departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health are leaders in the development of methods in environmental life course epidemiology, beginning with seminal analyses relating prenatal Dutch Famine exposure to later life outcomes and currently with follow up of birth cohorts throughout the world, many focusing on environmental exposures. Indeed, the Department of Epidemiology leadership has chosen to put life course epidemiology among the five priority areas in the department, the Mailman School of Public Health identified the life course as its theme for the academic year 2013-2014, and the Dean of the Mailman School, Dr. Linda Fried, is focusing on interdisciplinary collaborations. Together with world-class basic scientists in areas such as nutrition, genetics, and epigenetics and public health scientists in epidemiology, biostatistics and the social sciences the proposed training program fills a niche in modern population health science.

Pre-doctoral students in this training program will work with two mentors, one in their primary academic department and the other in the complementary department. They will be required to fulfill the requirements of their home departments and take a series of courses in life course epidemiology, toxicology, and research methods. Post-doctoral fellows will undertake an interdisciplinary research program with joint mentors in each field.


Please download the application and follow the instructions for submission. Applications are due January 1.


Interested in applying? Please contact either Pam Factor-Litvak or Frederica Perera, program co-directors to discuss the program and application process.