Joseph H. Graziano, PhD

  • Emeritus Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Pharmacology
Profile Headshot


Dr. Joseph Graziano's research career has been devoted to understanding the consequences of exposure to metals, both on the molecular and population levels. Human exposure to metals occurs via a number of different scenarios that include exposure in the workplace; in the home, such as lead paint, or arsenic in drinking water, or outdoors; due to airborne emissions from industry or transportation vehicles. In the past, Dr. Graziano's research was almost entirely devoted to lead poisoning, which has contributed to understanding the adverse effects of lead exposure on childhood development. As a pharmacologist, his laboratory developed the oral drug that is now used to treat children with lead poisoning. More recently, Dr. Graziano's work has taken him to Bangladesh, where his current research is aimed at understanding the consequences of arsenic exposure on the Bangladeshi population, and on devising strategies to reduce toxicity and provide arsenic-free drinking water, a problem that spans beyond the political borders of Bangladesh, to much of South Asia, from India to Vietnam. Recent findings that both arsenic and manganese, both elevated in Bangladesh drinking water, are associated with cognitive deficits in children, add urgency to solving this enormous public health and environmental problem.

Academic Appointments

  • Emeritus Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Pharmacology

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BS, 1967 Long Island University
  • PhD, 1971 Rutgers University

Committees, Societies, Councils

Member, Society for Pediatric Research

Member, Society of Toxicology

Member, American Society of Hematology

Member, American Society of Public Health

Member, Society for Occupational and Environmental Health

Member, New York Academy of Sciences

Executive Committee, Earth Institute at Columbia University

Honors & Awards

Andrew Mellon Teacher Scientist Award, Cornell Medical College, 1978

Career Achievement Award, Society of Toxicology, Metals Specialty Section, 2014

Environmental Justice Award, West Harlem Environmental Action (WEACT) 2005

Teacher of the Year, Mailman School of Public Health, 2002

The Dean's Excellence in Leadership Award, 2009


Research Interests

  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Global Health

Selected Publications

To see a complete listing of my publications, go to this link in PubMed:

Graziano J, Slavkovich V, Liu X, Factor-Litvak P, Todd AC A prospective study of prenatal and childhood lead exposure and erythropoietin production Occupational and Environmental Medicine 46 924-929 2004

Wasserman, G.A., Liu, X., Parvez, F., Ahsan, H., Levy, D., Factor-Litvak, P., Kline, J., van Geen, A., Slavkovich, V., LoIacono, N.J., Cheng, Z., Zheng, Y., Graziano, J.H. Water manganese exposure and children's intellectual function in Araihazar, Bangladesh Environmental Health Perspectives 114 124-129. 2006

Opler MG, Brown AS, Graziano J, Desai M, Zheng W, Schaefer C, Factor-Litvak P, Susser ES Prenatal lead exposure, delta-aminolevulinic acid, and schizophrenia Environmental Health Perspectives 112 548-52 2004

Ahsan, H., Chen, Y., Kibriya, M.G., Slavkovich, V., Parvez, F., Jasmine, F., Gamble, M., Graziano, J.H. Arsenic metabolism, genetic susceptibility and risk of pre-malignant skin lesions in Bangladesh. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarker Prev 16 1270-1278 2007

Van Geen A, Cheng Z, Seddique AA, Hoque MA, Gelman A, Graziano JH, Ahsan H, Parvez F, Ahmed KM Reliability of the Hach kit to test groundwater for arsenic in Bangladesh Environmental Science and Technology In press 2004

Chen, Y., Hall, M., Graziano, J.H., Slavkovich, V., van Geen, A., Parvez, F., Ahsan, H. A prospective study of blood selenium levels and risk of arsenic-related premalignant skin lesions. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarker Prev 16 207-213 2007

Van Geen A, Ahsan H, Horneman AH, Dhar RK, Zheng Y, Hussain I, Ahmed KM, Gelman A, Stute M, Simpson HJ, Wallace S, Small C, Parvez F, Slavkovich V, Loiacono NJ, Becker M, Cheng Z, Momotaj H, Shahnewaz Well-switching in Bangladesh: a possible solution to the arsenic crisis? Bulletin of the World Health Organization 80 732-737 2002

Factor-Litvak P, Wasserman G, Kline JK, Graziano J The Yugoslavia prospective study of environmental lead exposure Environmental Health Perspectives 107 9-15 1999

Ahsan H, Rahman A, Perrin M, Stute M, Hasnat A, Van Geen A, Graziano JH Associations between water arsenic, urinary arsenic, and skin lesions in Bangladesh Occupational and Environmental Medicine 42 1195-1201 2000

Global Health Activities

Health Effects and Geochemistry of Arsenic, Bangladesh: Dr. Graziano is the Director of Columbia University's Superfund Basic Research Program, entitled "Health Effects and Geochemistry of Arsenic and Lead." This research program includes a set of seven research projects, three of which take place in Bangladesh, where naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water has led to the exposure of nearly 40 million people. Approximately 15 Columbia faculty, from the Mailman School, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are involved. The three research projects in Bangladesh are: 1) a cohort study of arsenicosis in Bangladesh; 2) environmental arsenic, pregnancy and children's health; and 3) arsenic mobilization in Bangladesh groundwater.

Environmental Lead, Reproduction, and Infant Development, Serbia and Montenegro: From 1983 to 1998, Dr. Graziano directed a long-term prospective study of environmental lead exposure in Kosovo. The town of Kosovska Mitrovica is a heavily lead-exposed area, due to the presence of a large mining, smelting, and battery production industry. Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo, is relatively unexposed. This 15-year prospective study is considered to be one of the landmark studies that associated childhood lead exposure with impaired cognitive function in children.

Urban Health Activities

Columbia NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan: Joseph Graziano is the founding director of this Center, and served as its director for eight years. In that capacity, and as Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the time, he initiated a research program - either personally or through recruitment of faculty - that addresses the environmental health concerns of our communities. In addition, through interactions with the West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT), he has cultivated a number of community-based research projects.