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Black History Month: Fireside Chat with Dr. Sara Bleich & Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Black History Month: Fireside Chat with Dr. Sara Bleich & Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Sara Bleich

Sara Bleich is a Professor of Public Health Policy at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Sara’s research provides evidence to support policies to prevent obesity and diet-related diseases, particularly among vulnerable populations. A signature theme throughout her work is an interest in asking simple, meaningful questions which can fill important knowledge gaps. Sara’s research has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, Health Affairs, and American Journal of Public Health and has been featured in outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.

Sara has received numerous awards including one for excellence in public interest communication. Sara served as a White House Fellow from 2015 to 2016 where she worked as a Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. She holds degrees from Columbia (BA, Psychology) and Harvard (PhD, Health Policy).


Tamarra James-Todd

Tamarra James-Todd is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As an epidemiologist, my research takes a three-way approach to studying and improving women’s reproductive and long-term health by: 1) evaluating the role of environmental chemicals on adverse maternal health outcomes; 2) assessing racial/ethnic disparities in environmental chemical exposures and adverse health outcomes; and 3) developing pregnancy and postpartum interventions to improve women’s chronic disease risk.

Environmental Health and Pregnancy Complications. Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that can affect our health. Over the course of our lives, these chemicals may have differing effects that could have a greater impact on our health during certain critical and sensitive windows . Furthermore, certain populations, such as women and minorities have higher exposure levels of certain types of chemicals. My research focuses on the role of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals in pregnancy and their effect on a number of relevant pregnancy complications.

Racial Disparities in Environmental Health. A related area of research focuses on racial/ethnic differences in environmental chemical exposures and their contribution to disparities in chronic disease risk. For this, I evaluate both non-pregnant and pregnant populations and assess sources of exposures to certain types of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals. This work has led me to explore the role of black hair care products on risk of certain conditions, such as early age at menarche, as well as other personal care products that contain environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Translational Research in Diabetes and Pregnancy. In collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, I work on identifying reproductive risk factors of subsequent development of type 2 diabetes and its complications. For this, I have assessed the effect of preterm birth on future development of type 2 diabetes in large cohort studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Black Women’s Health Study. I have also designed a number of interventions to reduce future risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women following a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes. I also conduct translational research in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. For this work, I published one of the first studies documenting a rapid decline in blood glucose control during the postpartum period in women with type 1 diabetes, despite excellent blood glucose control during pregnancy. This work has major implications for a woman’s future risk of diabetes complications.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Countway Floor 5: Lahey Room
Harvard Longwood Campus
Registration has closed.

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Meredith Solomon

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