Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD, MPH

  • Professor and Incoming Chair (Effective July 1) of Environmental Health Sciences
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Ana Navas-Acien is a Professor and Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. She is a physician-epidemiologist (MD, University of Granada, Spain '96) with a specialty in Preventive Medicine and Public Health (Hospital La Paz, Madrid '01) and a PhD in Epidemiology (Johns Hopkins University '05). Her research investigates the health effects of environmental exposures (metals, tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes, air pollution), molecular pathways and gene-environment interactions, and effective interventions for reducing involuntary exposures and their health effects. She serves as PI of environmental studies in multiple studies including the Strong Heart Study, a study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in American Indian communities, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study of cardiovascular, metabolic and lung disease in urban settings across the US; the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy 2 (TACT2), a clinical trial about the benefits of metal chelation; the VapeScan Study, a study of young adults from New York City; and India-FOCUS, a study evaluating risk factors for chronic kidney disease of unknown origin as part of the CURE consortium. Her goals are to contribute to the reduction of environmental health inequalities in underserved and disproportionately exposed populations.

Office Location: 722 West 168th Street, ARB 1105

Academic Appointments

  • Professor and Incoming Chair (Effective July 1) of Environmental Health Sciences

Administrative Titles

  • Member, Columbia Center for Environmental Health and Justice in Northern Manhattan
  • Director, Columbia Northern Plains Superfund Research Program
  • Full Member, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Associate Member, Earth Institute
  • Vice Chair, Research and Faculty Affairs
  • Co-director, Post-doctoral program, Columbia Climate School
  • Associate Member, Earth Insititute


  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MD, 1996 University of Granada
  • MPH, 1998 National School of Health
  • PhD, 2005 Johns Hopkins University

Editorial Boards

Editor-in-Chief, Current Environmental Health Reports

Associate Editor, Environmental Health Perspectives

Associate Editor, Environmental Research

Honors & Awards

Dean's Excellence in Mentoring Award at Mailman School of Public Health

Johns Hopkins Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award (AMTRA), 2009, 2014

Delta Omega Honor Society, Alpha Chapter, 2010

Phi Beta Kappa, 2005

Fulbright Scholar, 2001-2003


Investigating the role of the environment to improve population health

Research Interests

  • Aging
  • Biostatistical Methods
  • Chronic disease
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Epigenetics
  • Food Policy and Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Global Health
  • Public Health Education
  • Substance Use Disorders

Selected Publications

Urinary zinc and incident diabetes: prospective evidence from the Strong Heart Study. Galvez-Fernandez M, Powers M, Grau-Perez M, Domingo-Relloso A, Lolacono N, Goessler W, Zhang Y, Fretts A, Umans JG, Maruthur N, Navas-Acien A. Diabetes Care 2022 Sep 22:dc221152. doi: 10.2337/dc22-1152.

The association of arsenic exposure and arsenic metabolism with all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality in the Strong Heart Study. Kuo CC, Balakrishnan P, Gribble MO, Best LG, Goessler W, Umans JG, and Navas-Acien A. Environ Int 2022;159:107029. PMID: 34890900.

Chelation therapy in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Ravalli F, Vela Parada X, Ujueta F, Pinotti R, Anstrom KJ, Lamas GA, Navas-Acien A. JAHA. 2022;11:e024648. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.024648.

Relationship between well water arsenic and uranium in Northern Plains Native lands. Sobel M, Sanchez T, Mailloux B, Powers M, Yracheta J, Harvey D, Best LG, Black Bear A, Hasan K, Thomas E, Morgan C, Olmedo P, Chen R, Rule A, O'Leary M, George CM, Navas-Acien A, Bostick B. Environmental Pollution. 2021;287:117655. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117655.

Heavy Metals, Cardiovascular Disease, and the Unexpected Benefits of Chelation Therapy. Lamas GA, Navas-Acien A, Mark DB, Lee KL. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016;67:2411-8. PMID: 27199065.

Effects of e-liquid flavor, nicotine content, and puff duration on metal emissions from electronic cigarettes. Zhao D, Ilievski V, Slavkovich V, Olmedo P, Domingo-Relloso A, Kleiman NJ, Navas-Acien A, Hilpert M. Environ Res 2021; 204(Pt C):112270. PMID: 34717948.

Two-month e-cigarette aerosol exposure causes accumulation of neurotoxic metals and essential metals alterations in mouse brain. Re BE, Hilpert M, Saglimbeni B, Strait M, Illievski V, Coady M, Talayero M, Wilmsen K, Chesnais H, Balac O, R Glabonjat, Slavkovich V, Yan B, Graziano J, Navas-Acien A, Kleiman N. Environ Res 2021;202:111557. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111557.

Blood DNA methylation and incident coronary heart disease: Evidence from the Strong Heart Study and across diverse populations. Navas-Acien A, Domingo-Relloso A, Subedi P, Riffo-Campos AL, Xia R, Gomez L, Haack K, Goldsmith J, Howard BV, Best LG, Devereux R, Tauqeer A, Zhang Y, Fretts AM, Pichler G, Levy D, Vasan RS, Baccarelli A, Herreros-Martinez M, Tang WY, Bressler J, Fornage M, Umans JG, Tellez-Plaza M, Fallin MD, Zhao J, Cole S. JAMA Cardiol. 2021 Aug 4:e212704. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2021.2704.

Global Health Activities

India-FOCUS (Factors of CKDu in Uddanam Study), India: India-FOCUS is one of the cohorts of the to study risk factors for chronic kidney disease of unknown origin as part of the NIDDK/NIEHS/ Fogarty CURE consortium to identify risk factors for the epidemic of chronic kidney disease affecting farm workers in parts of India and Central America.

Drinking water interventions - Strong Heart Water Study, Indigenous Communities: Effective interventions are urgently needed to mitigate arsenic exposure in families and communities relying on private wells and small community water systems for drinking water. The Strong Heart Study communities, especially in areas of North and South Dakota, face many difficulties to be connected to community drinking water systems. Through substantial community engagement, we have developed an intervention to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-level participatory intervention to prevent arsenic exposure in rural communities. This work together with the Strong Heart Study have inspired the Columbia Northern Plains Superfund Research Program

Urban Health Activities

Health Effects of Metals in the Strong Heart Study: Indigenous communities bear a disproportionate share of risk from environmental exposures. The Strong Heart Study (SHS) is an ongoing population-based cohort study of American Indian (AI) adults and their family members that emphasizes environmental health. Working in partnership with the SHS investigators and communities, we found that arsenic and cadmium exposures were related to increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and mortality, type 2 diabetes, and/or cancer mortality. Through the Columbia Northern Plains Superfund Research Program and other projects, research is ongoing to understand sources of exposure, molecular pathways and to effective interventions to eliminate environmental health disparities.

Gene-Environment Interactions and Environmental Epigenetics: We investigate gene-metal interactions in the development of chronic diseases with environmental exposures across multiple populations. We are also evaluating the role of epigenonmics, epistranscriptomics and metabolomics markers as potential mediators of the health effects of metals. Our goal is to identify population-groups that are most susceptible to the health effects of metals and other environmental exposures. We work across multiple populations with sophisticated multi-omics data and use cutting-edge statistical tools to evaluate molecular mechanisms of environmental exposures in human populations.

Metals in the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy 2 (TACT2M): The main objectives of TACT2-Metals is to evaluate whether long-term chelation can reduce metal levels and to determine whether this reduction can explain the beneficial effect of chelation in cardiovascular disease. We selected lead and cadmium as key metals due to their widespread exposure and long-term accumulation in the body, and the solid epidemiological and mechanistic evidence supporting their role in cardiovascular disease development and progression.