John R. Balmes MD

Director, Joint Medical Program
Vice Division Head, Environmental Health Sciences
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
Research Interests: 
  • Effects of exposure to outdoor air pollution on respiratory and cardiovascular health, immune and glucose dysregulation, and obesity in children and adults
  • Effects of exposure to household air pollution (from combustion of biomass fuels for domestic cooking) on respiratory and cardiovascular health in children and adults
  • Effects of early-life exposure to pesticides on respiratory health later in the life course
  • Effects of arsenic in drinking water on respiratory health
  • Interactive health effects of exposures to air pollution and psychosocial stress
Selected Publications: 

Heinzerling AP, Guarnieri MJ, Mann JK, Diaz JV, Thompson LM, Diaz A, Bruce NG, Smith KR, Balmes JR. Lung function in woodsmoke-exposed Guatemalan children following a chimney stove intervention. Thorax 2016;71(5):421-428.

Reid CE, Jerrett M, Tager IB, Petersen ML, Mann JK, Balmes JR. Differential respiratory health effects from the 2008 northern California wildfires: A spatiotemporal approach. Environ Res 2016;150:227-235.

Raanan RA, Gunier RB, Balmes JR, Beltran AJ, Harley KG, Bradman A, Eskenazi B. Decreased lung function in 7-year-old children with early-life organophosphate exposure. Thorax 2016 Feb;71(2):148-153.

Nishimura KK, Galanter JM, Arjomandi M, Wong H, Donde A, Frelinger J, Dalton S, Ching W, Power K, Balmes J. Exposure to medium and high ambient levels of ozone causes adverse systemic inflammatory and cardiac autonomic effects. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2015 Jun 15;308(12):H1499-509.


Steinmaus C, Ferreccio C, Yuan Y, Acevedo J, González,F, Perez L, Cortés S, Balmes JR, Liaw J, Smith AH. Elevated lung cancer in younger adults and low concentrations of arsenic in water. Am J Epidemiol 2014; 180(11):1082-7.

Guarnieri MJ, Diaz JV, Basu C, Diaz A, Pope D, Smith KR, Smith-Sivertsen T, Bruce N, Solomon C, McCracken J, Balmes JR. Effects of woodsmoke exposure on airway inflammation in rural Guatemalan women. PLoS One 2014;9:e88455.

Roth LA, Oh SS, Thakur N, Nguyen EA, Thyne S, Farber HJ, Serebrisky D, Kumar R, Brigino-Buenaventura E, Davis A, Lenoir MA, Meade K, Rodriguez-Cintron W, Avila PC, Borrell LN, Bibbins-Domingo K, Rodriguez-Santana JR, Sen S, Lurmann F, Balmes JR, Burchard E. Early life air pollution and asthma risk in minority children: The GALA II and SAGE II Studies. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2013;188(3):309-318.

Smith KR, McCracken JP, Weber MW, Hubbard A, Jenny A, Thompson L, Balmes J, Diaz A, Arana B, Bruce N.  RESPIRE: A Randomised Controlled Trial of the impact of reducing household air pollution on childhood pneumonia in Guatemala. The Lancet 2011;378(9804):1717-1726.

Nadeau K, McDonald-Hyman C, Noth EM, Pratt B, Hammond SK, Balmes J, Tager I. Ambient air pollution impairs regulatory T-cell function in asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010;126:845-852.

Other interests: 
  • Professor of Medicine, UCSF
  • Attending Physician, Divisions of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine and Occupational/Environmental Medicine, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, 1986-present
  • Director, Northern California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (UC Berkeley-UC Davis-UCSF)
  • Physician Member, California Air Resources Board, 2008-present
Profile Updated: September 30, 2016