Nicole Deziel, associate professor of epidemiology (environmental health sciences), has been named a co-director of the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric, and Environmental Epidemiology (CPPEE), starting July 1. She will share leadership duties with the center’s current director, Andrew DeWan, associate professor of epidemiology (chronic diseases).
DeWan has been the lone director of CPPEE since Brian Leaderer, Susan Dwight Bliss Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences), retired in June 2020. DeWan recently approached Deziel, who is on sabbatical this school year, about co-directing.
“I feel honored and excited and grateful to be invited to be co-director, as it’s a great opportunity,” Deziel said. “Additionally, I received a lot of support from the previous co-directors, Brian Leaderer and Michael Bracken, and YSPH leadership, so it’s gratifying to know they are enthusiastic about the future direction of CPPEE and the potential impact of collaborative research efforts.”
Said DeWan: “I'm absolutely overjoyed to have Nicole co-directing the CPPEE with me. This center has historically been co-directed by faculty from CDE and EHS, and I think it runs better that way. It strengthens collaborations between the departments and brings together different perspectives on research questions.”
The CPPEE promotes the health of women and children through epidemiologic research investigating the impact of environmental, genetic, and clinical factors on pregnancy, birth, and childhood.
Deziel, in 2022, became one of the first woman professors in EHS to attain tenure. She comes to her role at CPPEE with a solid research background in assessing populations’ exposure to traditional and emerging environmental contaminants.
A study she published last summer in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, “Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Exposure and Risk of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Case–Control Study in Pennsylvania, 2009–2017,” determined that children living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania at birth were 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia between ages 2-7. The paper drew national attention.
In early May, Deziel went to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Senate Budget Committee in a hearing that examined the environmental and health impacts of fossil fuels. She plans to bring her resources and expertise in population research to her new role at CPPEE.
“I view my role as helping to make available shared resources for center faculty, such as space and equipment, and helping support research staff who have expertise in recruitment, data management, and data analysis,” she said. “This will involve working collaboratively with other offices across Yale and also applying for funding with Andy. I also will work with Andy to continue to build a positive climate of collaboration and energy, such as with our CPPEE seminars or social and networking events, which can enhance the experiences of faculty, staff, and students within the center and build community.”
“Nicole brings a completely different research perspective with her interest in environmental exposure assessment and environmental risk factors that impact human health,” DeWan said. “Whereas my research focuses on understanding how genetic risk factors contribute to human health and disease, with a focus on pregnancy, perinatal, and pediatric diseases… I think tackling research questions about health and disease from different public health perspectives gives a broader perspective and better understanding of all of the risk factors at play.”
In addition, he said, “Nicole also brings a strong mentoring track record, especially for graduate students and junior faculty. We would like to build the training capacity at the center so that we can train the next generation of perinatal and pediatric epidemiologists with expertise in either environmental or genetic epidemiology, or both.”
Deziel’s new appointment earned her a solid endorsement from Vasilis Vasiliou, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences).
“Her body of research in linking environmental chemicals and their adverse impacts on people speaks for itself,” he said. “I know that she will bring that same level of diligence and excellence to her new position.”
Featured in this article
- Vasilis Vasiliou, PhDDepartment Chair and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences) and of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and of Environment; Director, Yale Superfund Research Center; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Cancer Center; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health