For innovative work in environmental epidemiology, Eskenazi receives Goldsmith Award

On Wednesday, August 29, Professor Brenda Eskenazi received the John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology from the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE), a society of more than 1,000 scientists worldwide. The premiere award of the ISEE honors environmental epidemiologists who serve as models of excellence in research, unwavering promotion of environmental health, and integrity.

Eskenazi, Jennifer and Brian Maxwell Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology, received the award in part for her contributions to the field of environmental epidemiology through her work founding and directing the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. She has conducted numerous studies worldwide on environmental exposures to children.

Since 1999, she has directed a longitudinal birth cohort study examining chemicals and other factors in the environment and children’s health as part of the CHAMACOS project. Among other findings, the landmark study has linked flame retardants to lower birth weights, associated PBDE exposure to reduced fertility and altered thyroid function in women, and linked mothers’ exposure to organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy to shorter gestation and lower IQs in children.

At the society’s 24th annual conference in South Carolina, ISEE Past President Dean Baker praised Eskenazi’s impressive research credentials, noting that she has received international recognition for her work, that her work is a model that many others have followed, and that her publications were cited more than 700 times in the past year.

“I am very honored to be acknowledged by my colleagues and to receive this award in the name of John R. Goldsmith, a visionary and one of the founders of environmental epidemiology,” says Eskenazi.

Eskenazi’s presentation at the conference, “From documentation to action: The role of the environmental epidemiologist in protecting the next generation worldwide,” was met with a standing ovation. She traveled to the meeting from Africa, where she is starting a new NIH-funded research project examining the effects of DDT and pyrethroids used for malaria control on the health of mothers and infants.

The ISEE Awards Committee solicits nominations each year for the John Goldsmith Award for “sustained and outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of environmental epidemiology.” This annual award was established to honor John Goldsmith, one of the organizers, early leaders, and constant supporters of the ISEE, who passed away in October 1999. Recipients have typically contributed in substantive and innovative fashion to the methods and practice of epidemiology over many years.

By Linda Anderberg