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Emily S Barrett Ph.D.

Associate Professor Rutgers University- School of Public HealthEOHSI – Exposure Science and Epidemiology
Work EOHSI 326 170 Frelinghuysem Road Piscataway NJ 08854 Work Phone: 848-445-0197
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Biographical Info

Dr. Barrett is an Associate Professor in the Rutgers University School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology. She received an A.B. in Biology and English from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California-Los Angeles. Before coming to Rutgers, she was on the faculty at the University of Rochester, where she remains an Adjunct Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences.

Research Areas

Dr. Barrett studies the early origins of health and disease, or how exposures early in life shape our subsequent health and developmental trajectories.  Because gestation is a particularly sensitive period when body systems are first forming, insults or exposures during this period may have profound downstream effects. Much of Dr. Barrett’s research focuses on prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptors, agents which interfere with the normal activity of hormones in the body. Phthalates are a class of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found widely in food and consumer products. Nearly 100% of Americans have measurable levels of phthalate metabolites in their bodies, yet our current understanding of how these chemicals affect our bodies is limited. In The Infant Development and the Environment Study (TIDES), Dr. Barrett and colleagues are studying how prenatal exposure to these chemicals impacts reproductive and neuro-development, and whether the effects may differ in boys and girls.

Other exposures, such as psychosocial stress, disrupt early development as well. Numerous studies have examined how stress during pregnancy may alter cortisol activity and “program” neurodevelopmental, metabolic, and immune outcomes. Much less is known about the extent to which prenatal stress (and related constructs, like anxiety) may also act through other pathways and mechanisms to affect the fetus. For example, evidence from animal models and humans suggests that prenatal stress may alter in utero androgen activity, thereby affecting sex-dependent development in the offspring. Dr. Barrett and collaborators are exploring this hypothesis in the Understanding Prenatal Signals and Infant Development (UPSIDE) Study, with an eye towards better understanding the early origins of sex differences. Concurrent work in this cohort will examine how maternal inflammation during pregnancy contributes to infant and child development. One of the major themes of this research is understanding the role of the placenta in communicating messages about stressors from mother to fetus (and vice versa).

In addition to her work on prenatal exposures, Dr. Barrett is also interested in factors that impact fertility in adulthood, particularly in women. She is involved in projects focused on how psychosocial stress and environmental chemical exposures affect reproductive hormone concentrations and pregnancy outcomes. Additional ongoing work examines possible biomarkers of the prenatal hormonal milieu that can be assessed postnatally, and their relationship to measures of adult reproductive health.

Dr. Barrett’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01HD083369; R01ES016863; UG3OD023349; UG3OD023271; P30ES001247) and the Mae Stone Goode Foundation.

Research Highlights

  • Assessment of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals during pregnancy in relation to reproductive and neurodevelopment in childhood
  • Examination of maternal stress in relation to sex differences in the offspring
  • Investigation of novel biomarkers of the prenatal hormonal milieu in humans
  • Exploration of placental morphology and function in relation to prenatal exposures and postnatal outcomes
  • Identification of factors contributing to reproductive health and ovarian function in fertile and infertile women

Scholarly Activities

  • Editorial Board: Hormones and Behavior, Fertility and Sterility (Top 3 reviewer, 2015-2016)
  • Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar (NIH K12; 2011-2014)
  • Environmental Health News Science Communications Fellow (2009-2010)
  • Community Advisory Board, URMC Environmental Health Sciences Center (2009-2016)
  • Board of Directors, Healthy Baby Network (2015-2016)

Recent Publications

  1. Barrett, ES, Horton, DB, Roy, J, Gennaro, ML, Brooks, A, Tischfield, J, Greenberg, P, Andrews, T, Jagpal, S, Reilly, N et al.. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in previously undiagnosed health care workers in New Jersey, at the onset of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Infect Dis. 2020;20 (1):853. doi: 10.1186/s12879-020-05587-2. PubMed PMID:33198725 PubMed Central PMC7668027
  2. Teteh, DK, Chan, M, Turner, B, Hedgeman, B, Ericson, M, Clark, P, Mitchell, E, Barrett, E, Llanos, A, Kittles, R et al.. Heavy is the Head That Wears the Crown: Black Men's Perspective on Harmful Effects of Black Women's Hair Product Use and Breast Cancer Risk. Am J Mens Health. ;14 (6):1557988320970073. doi: 10.1177/1557988320970073. PubMed PMID:33143543 PubMed Central PMC7675885
  3. Sley, EG, Rosen, EM, van 't Erve, TJ, Sathyanarayana, S, Barrett, ES, Nguyen, RHN, Bush, NR, Milne, GL, Swan, SH, Ferguson, KK et al.. Omega-3 fatty acid supplement use and oxidative stress levels in pregnancy. PLoS One. 2020;15 (10):e0240244. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240244. PubMed PMID:33095772 PubMed Central PMC7584173
  4. Evans, SF, Raymond, S, Sethuram, S, Barrett, ES, Bush, NR, Nguyen, R, Sathyanarayana, S, Swan, SH. Associations between prenatal phthalate exposure and sex-typed play behavior in preschool age boys and girls. Environ Res. 2020;192 :110264. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110264. PubMed PMID:32997969
  5. Rommel, AS, Milne, GL, Barrett, ES, Bush, NR, Nguyen, R, Sathyanarayana, S, Swan, SH, Ferguson, KK. Associations between urinary biomarkers of oxidative stress in the third trimester of pregnancy and behavioral outcomes in the child at 4 years of age. Brain Behav Immun. 2020;90 :272-278. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.08.029. PubMed PMID:32905853 PubMed Central PMC7544682
  6. Adgent, MA, Carroll, KN, Hazlehurst, MF, Loftus, CT, Szpiro, AA, Karr, CJ, Barrett, ES, LeWinn, KZ, Bush, NR, Tylavsky, FA et al.. A combined cohort analysis of prenatal exposure to phthalate mixtures and childhood asthma. Environ Int. 2020;143 :105970. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105970. PubMed PMID:32763629 PubMed Central PMC7708520
  7. Panettieri, RA Jr, Carson, J, Horton, D, Barrett, E, Roy, J, Radbel, J. Asthma and COVID: What Are the Important Questions?. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8 (8):2487-2488. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.06.008. PubMed PMID:32585410 PubMed Central PMC7306741
  8. Barrett, ES, Horton, DB, Roy, J, Gennaro, ML, Brooks, A, Tischfield, J, Greenberg, P, Andrews, T, Jagpal, S, Reilly, N et al.. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in previously undiagnosed health care workers at the onset of the U.S. COVID-19 epidemic. medRxiv. 2020; :. doi: 10.1101/2020.04.20.20072470. PubMed PMID:32511600 PubMed Central PMC7276027
  9. Radbel, J, Jagpal, S, Roy, J, Brooks, A, Tischfield, J, Sheldon, M, Bixby, C, Witt, D, Gennaro, ML, Horton, DB et al.. Detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Is Comparable in Clinical Samples Preserved in Saline or Viral Transport Medium. J Mol Diagn. 2020;22 (7):871-875. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2020.04.209. PubMed PMID:32405270 PubMed Central PMC7219422
  10. Padula, AM, Rivera-Núñez, Z, Barrett, ES. Combined Impacts of Prenatal Environmental Exposures and Psychosocial Stress on Offspring Health: Air Pollution and Metals. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2020;7 (2):89-100. doi: 10.1007/s40572-020-00273-6. PubMed PMID:32347455 PubMed Central PMC7299240
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Categories: Faculty, Exposure Science and Epidemiology, Member
Updated 6 months ago.