The goal of my K99/R00 career development plan is to launch an independent research program in reproductive and environmental epidemiology of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which includes evaluating social determinants of health that may affect overlapping biologic pathways. To accomplish this goal, I will enhance my expertise in environmental health sciences with didactic and hands-on training in reproductive biology, social epidemiology/stress science, and environmental epidemiologic methods. This specialized training will allow me to achieve my long term goal of becoming an independent academic investigator and offering new insights on the cumulative impacts of environmental and social factors on reproductive health. The primary goal of my research plan is to evaluate the independent effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and psychosocial stress on thyroid hormone disruption and consequent perinatal outcomes among a population of socioeconomically and racially diverse pregnant women. This work is particularly innovative as both PBDEs and psychosocial stress can impact the thyroid system, suggesting a biologic plausibility for interaction, however the two exposures have never been examined simultaneously in a human study. During the K99 mentored phase, under the primary mentorship of Dr. Tracey Woodruff, I will use innovative measures to characterize biologically-relevant exposures to PBDEs and psychosocial stress and their effects on thyroid hormone disruption. Exposure to PBDEs will be assessed using both PBDE congeners as well as their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PBDEs). Psychosocial stress will be evaluated with subjective measures of stress and telomere length, a biomarker of cellular aging that is influenced by psychosocial stress. In the independent phase, I will apply this knowledge to investigate the independent effects of PBDEs and psychosocial stress on adverse perinatal outcomes, such as gestational hypertension, preterm birth, and low birth weight, and assess whether these effects are mediated via the thyroid system. The integration of this work will enable me to develop the necessary methodological and biological frameworks to examine the combined, and potentially synergistic, effects of environmental and psychosocial factors on perinatal outcomes in future R01 studies. I am well positioned to accomplish these goals at the University of California, San Francisco, a highly respected research institution, with a strong environmental reproductive health program, a world-renowned faculty with expertise in psychosocial stress, and an extensive biomedical infrastructure. My primary mentor and co-mentors in reproductive sciences, environmental epidemiology, health disparities, stress science, and biostatistics will guide the process whereby I learn the methods that are required to accomplish the goals set forth in this proposal. This project represents the cutting-edge of health disparities and environmental health research and seeks to answer critical scientific as well as policy-relevant questions for improving the health of vulnerable populations who often face disproportionate and elevated exposures to multiple chemical and non-chemical stressors.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this project is to prepare Dr. Ami Zota to transition to a position as an independent academic investigator in environmental health sciences focusing on the consequence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) during pregnancy and social factors that may affect overlapping biologic pathways. She will conduct epidemiologic analyses to investigate the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants and psychosocial stress on perinatal outcomes and assess whether these effects are mediated by the thyroid system. Results from this work will improve pregnancy outcomes and inform public health policy, particularly for vulnerable subpopulations, who often encounter elevated exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Research Transition Award (R00)
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No Study Section (in-house review) (NSS)
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Gray, Kimberly A
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George Washington University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Zota, Ami R; Phillips, Cassandra A; Mitro, Susanna D (2016) Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposures among the U.S. Population in NHANES, 2003-2010. Environ Health Perspect 124:1521-1528
Mitro, Susanna D; Dodson, Robin E; Singla, Veena et al. (2016) Consumer Product Chemicals in Indoor Dust: A Quantitative Meta-analysis of U.S. Studies. Environ Sci Technol 50:10661-10672
Mitro, Susanna D; Birnbaum, Linda S; Needham, Belinda L et al. (2016) Cross-sectional Associations between Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants and Leukocyte Telomere Length among U.S. Adults in NHANES, 2001-2002. Environ Health Perspect 124:651-8
Branch, Francesca; Woodruff, Tracey J; Mitro, Susanna D et al. (2015) Vaginal douching and racial/ethnic disparities in phthalates exposures among reproductive-aged women: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004. Environ Health 14:57
Mitro, Susanna D; Johnson, Tyiesha; Zota, Ami R (2015) Cumulative Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy and Early Development. Curr Environ Health Rep 2:367-78
Zota, Ami R; Needham, Belinda L; Blackburn, Elizabeth H et al. (2015) Associations of cadmium and lead exposure with leukocyte telomere length: findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2002. Am J Epidemiol 181:127-36
Mitro, Susanna D; Zota, Ami R (2015) Vitamin D and uterine leiomyoma among a sample of US women: Findings from NHANES, 2001-2006. Reprod Toxicol 57:81-6
Zota, Ami R; Woodruff, Tracey J (2014) Changing trends in phthalate exposures: Zota and Woodruff respond. Environ Health Perspect 122:A264-5
Zota, Ami R; Calafat, Antonia M; Woodruff, Tracey J (2014) Temporal trends in phthalate exposures: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001-2010. Environ Health Perspect 122:235-41