Who’s Who? The IGHS Team

NICHD Principal Investigators

Cuilin Zhang M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Dr. Zhang is a Senior Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch. Dr. Zhang earned both her master of public health degree and Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Washington. She received her postdoctoral training in genetic and nutritional epidemiology at Harvard University. Dr. Zhang's research interest is at the interface of genetic and non-genetic biological markers and potentially modifiable exogenous factors, focusing on their interplay in relation to the development of complex diseases. More specifically, her current research activities focus primarily on the roles of genetic and environmental factors in the pathogenesis of gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity and health consequences of these complications. Dr. Zhang also has long-standing research interests in fetal origins of chronic diseases, life course epidemiology, and modifications of diet and lifestyle to improve reproductive outcomes and child health.

Edwina Yeung, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Dr. Yeung has been an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research since 2011. She joined NICHD after earning her doctoral degree in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Yeung’s research focuses on the life-course determinants of cardio-metabolic risk and in particularly the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis which suggests that early life exposures is associated with long-term health outcomes in children. Some early life factors that are of interest include the role of infertility treatment and pregnancy complications including maternal diabetes and obesity.

Sunni Mumford, Ph.D

Principal Investigator
Dr. Mumford is an Earl Stadtman Investigator in the DIPHR Epidemiology Branch. Dr. Mumford earned her doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her masters degree in biostatistics from the Harvard University School of Public Health. Dr. Mumford’s research focuses on the interplay between dietary intake, metabolism, and endogenous hormones. The goal of her research is to understand the dietary and lifestyle factors that affect fertility and reproduction among women, men and couples, and across generations.

NICHD Co-Investigators

James L. Mills, M.D., M.S.

Co-Investigator
Dr. Mills is a Senior Biomedical Research Service Scientist and Senior Investigator in DIPHR's Epidemiology Branch. He joined NICHD in 1979. He earned his MS in epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania, and his M.D. from New York Medical College. He trained in pediatrics at New York-Cornell and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Pediatric Endocrinology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His primary research interest is the etiology of birth defects. He has worked for the last decade on genetic and biochemical risk factors for NTDs and other birth defects. His most recent work includes studies of the effect of maternal choline and iron status on birth defects. He and his colleagues are collaborators in several large scale GWAS studies. Their quantitative traits GWAS, The Trinity Student Study, is used for exploring genetic contributions to concentrations of biological compounds ranging from tryptophan to clotting factors and collaborations are invited.

Stefanie Hinkle, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator
Dr. Hinkle is a staff scientist in the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She received her Ph.D. in Nutrition and Health Sciences from Emory University and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Epidemiology at NICHD. Dr. Hinkle’s research focuses on the interplay of complex lifestyle factors on gestational diabetes and maternal and fetal health and the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Aiyi Liu, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator
Dr. Liu is a Senior Investigator who has been a member of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Branch since 2002. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Rochester in 1997. His research interests include: general statistical estimation theory, sequential methodology and adaptive designs with applications to clinical trials and other medical studies, linear models and regression analysis, analysis of repeated measurements and longitudinal data, multivariate data analysis and related topics, statistical methods for biomarkers including diagnostic biomarkers and ROC curve analysis, statistical methods for pooled assessments, and measurement errors.

Pauline Mendola, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator
Dr. Mendola was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and she studied at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse before completing her graduate training at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Mendola is an Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NICHD. Prior to her work at NIH, she was the Branch Chief for Infant, Child and Women’s Health Statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics and Chief of the Epidemiology and Biomarkers Branch of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory at the US EPA. Her research interests include environmental factors that impact pregnancy complications and birth outcomes; implications of chronic disease in women of reproductive age; and factors underlying variation in asthma control during pregnancy.

Lindsey Sjaarda, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator
Dr. Sjaarda joined the Epidemiology Branch of NICHD in 2012 as a fellow and began her role as Staff Scientist in 2014. She received a Ph.D. in Reproductive Biology from the University of Wyoming, Center for the Study of Fetal Programming and an M.S. in Animal & Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech. Dr. Sjaarda also completed two years of postdoctoral training in clinical research in the Department of Pediatrics, in collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include the developmental origins of obesity and its comorbidities (e.g. diabetes, metabolic syndrome), pregnancy, and male and female infertility, including polycystic ovary syndrome.

Study Site Investigators

Harvard Site Principal Investigator
Dr. Chavarro is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, where he received both Sc.M. in Epidemiology and Sc.D. in Nutrition and Epidemiology. Dr. Chavarro’s research focuses on investigating the role of nutritional factors in the pathogenesis of diseases that affect reproductive and hormone sensitive organs. He is investigating the role of diet on human fertility, and the role of nutritional and metabolic factors in the development and progression of prostate cancer. Dr. Chavarro is also leading an effort to establish an internet-based cohort of young health professional women, to investigate how lifestyle factors during adolescence and early adulthood contribute to the etiology of chronic diseases later in life. Dr. Chavarro holds joint appointments in the Harvard Medical School as Assistant Professor of Medicine, and at the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center as Co-Director of the Epidemiology and Genetics Core.
Harvard Site Principal Investigator
Dr. Hu is a Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. He received a Ph.D. and M.P.H from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an M.D. from Tongji Medical University in China. Dr. Hu’s major research interests include: (1) Epidemiology and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases through diet and lifestyle, (2) Gene-environment interactions and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, (3) Nutritional metabolomics in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and (4) Obesity, metabolic phenotypes, and cardiovascular disease in Chinese populations. In addition, Dr. Hu holds the following joint appointments: (1) Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, (2) Director, Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center (BNORC) Epidemiology and Genetics Core, (3) Co-Director, Program in Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention, HSPH, and (4) Director, Harvard Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer Center (TREC).
DNBC Principal Investigator
Dr. Sjurdur F Olsen is Principal Investigator of the DNBC site and overall responsible for the Danish part of the IGHS project. He is Head of Centre for Fetal Programming at Statens Serum Institut (SSI). Dr. Olsen is leading SSI's Maternal Nutrition Group with 6 staff members, and he has served on expert committees regarding Maternal Nutrition. Dr. Olsen is an Adjunct Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, a member of the Danish National Birth Cohort's Management Group a Theme Leader in EU's IP Early Nutrition Programming Project, EARNEST, and, with Prof W ZHOU, Dr. Olsen is the co-PI on a fish oil trial with pregnant women in China.
DNBC Investigator
Anne Ahrendt Bjerregaard is IGHS study coordinator for the recruitment of mothers and children at the Danish site. Anne received a M.Sc. in Human Nutrition from University of Copenhagen and a PhD from Centre for fetal programming, Statens Serum Institute. In her PhD she worked with validation and reproducibility of a food frequency questionnaire targeting 14 years old Danish teenagers. Furthermore, she investigated the association between the diet of the teenager and the mother’s pregnancy diet. Through many years, Anne has been involved in development and follow-up on questionnaires as well as participant recruitment for research projects.
DNBC Investigator
Dr. Damm is leader of the clinical IGHS investigation program in Denmark. He is professor and consultant in Obstetrics at the Department of Obstetrics, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Together with professor Elisabeth R Mathiesen from Department of Endocrinology, Peter Damm is leading the Center for Pregnant Women with Diabetes. His main research areas are: gestational diabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, obstetrics, preeclampsia, physical activity, and overweight and obesity.
DNBC Investigator
Louise Groth Grunnet is coordinator of the clinical IGHS investigation program in Denmark. She is post doc at the department of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital. Louise has for many years been working within the field of fetal programming focusing on understanding the association between an adverse intrauterine environment and later risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Louise has experience in in vivo metabolic studies and obtained knowledge in initiating human metabolic studies and gained experience in epidemiologic, integrative physiology and genetic studies.
DNBC Investigator
Anne Cathrine Thuesen is a PhD student at the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, at Rigshospitalet. She received her degree as a medical doctor in 2015 and has worked within the field of diabetes since. Anne Cathrine has previous experience in the research field of developmental programming including in vivo studies.

Data Coordinating Center: The Emmes Corporation

Robert Gore-Langton, Ph.D.

DCC Principal Investigator
Dr. Robert Gore-Langton is the Principal Investigator of the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) at the Emmes Corporation in Rockville, MD. He is an experienced scientist and project leader that has led the DCC since 2003 on multiple NICHD-sponsored studies related to reproduction, pregnancy and development. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Toronto and has held faculty and investigator appointments at universities, research institutes and hospitals in the US and Canada.