Jennifer J Adibi

  • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty in Epidemiology, Obstetrics/Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

My research is on the early pregnancy origins of exposure-related risk to the long-term health of the child. My unique contribution to this question includes deep thinking and experimentation on the role of the human placenta. The placenta (a fetal organ that develops in the space between the uterine wall and the embryo and provides nutrients and other essential molecules) is a spatially and temporally relevant mediator of the effects of maternal exposures on fetal development. We use observational and experimental methods to move from an association in the population to a specific, reproducible and measurable finding regarding the role of the placenta. The long-term goal is to offer practical knowledge that can be applied to early pregnancy to establish sources of risk to the fetus. These exposures or sources of risk can then be evaluated for wide-scale removal or reduction through intervention.

To date, we have studied a class of endocrine disrupting chemicals called phthalates. We are currently conducting studies on perfluoroalkyl substances, endocrine disrupting pesticides and maternal adiposity. We are using biomarkers as well to understand the effects of structural racism and discrimination in pregnancy. Our outcomes are specific to pregnancy (placental hormones and proteins, tissue-level changes, birth size and timing of labor), and also relevant to the long-term health of the child (adiposity at birth and measures of the genitalia at birth, which are related to reproductive health and future fertility, brain imaging, neurocognitive assessments and language development).


2011 | University of California, San Francisco | Post-doctoral training in placental and stem cell biology
2008 | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health | Post-doctoral training in environmental epidemiology
2007 | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health | ScD
2002 | Mailman School of Public Health | MPH
1992 | Brown University | AB


Guest Lecturer, Reproductive Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2720)
Guest Lecturer, Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2721)
Guest Lecturer, Infectious Disease Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2160)
Guest Lecturer, Introduction to Molecular Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2600)
Primary Instructor, Application of Molecular Biomarkers in Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2620)

Selected Publications

1. Adibi JJ, Whyatt RM, Hauser R, Bhat HK, Davis BJ, Calafat AM, Hoepner LA, Perera FP, Tang D, Williams PL. Transcriptional biomarkers of steroidogenesis and trophoblast differentiation in the placenta in relation to prenatal phthalate exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2010 Feb; 118 (2):291-6. PMID: 20123604.

2. Just AC, Adibi JJ, Rundle AG, Calafat AM, Camann DE, Hauser R, Silva MJ, Whyatt RM. Urinary and air phthalate concentrations and self-reported use of personal care products among minority pregnant women in New York city. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. 2010 Nov; 20 (7):625-33. PMID: 20354564.

3. Whyatt RM, Liu X, Rauh VA, Calafat AM, Just AC, Hoepner L, Diaz D, Quinn J, Adibi J, Perera FP, Factor-Litvak P. Maternal prenatal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and child mental, psychomotor, and behavioral development at 3 years of age. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2012 Feb; 120 (2):290-5. PMID: 21893441.

4. Hromatka BS, Ngeleza S, Adibi JJ, Niles RK, Tshefu AK, Fisher SJ. Histopathologies, immunolocalization, and a glycan binding screen provide insights into Plasmodium falciparum interactions with the human placenta. Biology of Reproduction. 2013 Jun; 88 (6):154. PMID: 23575149.

5. Adibi JJ, Lee MK, Naimi AI, Barrett E, Nguyen RH, Sathyanarayana S, Zhao Y, Thiet MP, Redmon JB, Swan SH. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Partially Mediates Phthalate Association With Male and Female Anogenital Distance. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015 Sep; 100 (9):E1216-24. PMID: 26200238.

6. Adibi JJ, Lee MK, Saha S, Boscardin WJ, Apfel A, Currier RJ. Fetal sex differences in human chorionic gonadotropin fluctuate by maternal race, age, weight and by gestational age. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. 2015 Aug 5; 1-8. PMID: 26242396.

7. Adibi JJ, Marques ET Jr, Cartus A, Beigi RH. Teratogenic effects of the Zika virus and the role of the placenta. Lancet (London, England). 2016 Apr 9; 387 (10027):1587-90. PMID: 26952548.

8. Adibi JJ, Zhao Y, Cartus AR, Gupta P, Davidson LA. Placental Mechanics in the Zika-Microcephaly Relationship. Cell Host and Microbe. 2016 Jul 13; 20 (1):9-11: PMID: 27414496.

9. Adibi J, Burton GJ, Clifton V, Collins S, Frias AE, Gierman L, Grigsby P, Jones H, Lee C, Maloyan A, Markert UR, Morales-Prieto DM, Murthi P, Myatt L, Pollheimer J, Roberts V, Robinson W, Salafia C, Schabel M, Shah D, Sled J, Vaillancourt C, Weber M, O'Tierney-Ginn PF. IFPA meeting 2016 workshop report II: Placental imaging, placenta and development of other organs, sexual dimorphism in placental function and trophoblast cell lines. Placenta. 2017 Dec: 60 Suppl. 1:S10-S14. PMID: 28284454.

10. Adibi JJ, Buckley JP, Lee MK, Williams PL, Just AC, Zhao Y, Bhat HK, Whyatt RM. Maternal urinary phthalates and sex-specific placental mRNA levels in an urban birth cohort. Environmental Health. 2017 Apr 5; 16 (1):35. PMID: 28381288.

11. Adibi JJ, Zhao Y. Placental Transfer of Maternal Obesity: Identifying the Gatekeeper. Endocrinology. 2017 Aug 1;158 (8):2439-2440. PMID: 28838142.

12. Adibi JJ, Zhao Y, Zhan LV, Kapidzic M, Larocque N, Koistinen H, Huhtaniemi IT, Stenman UH. An Investigation of the Single and Combined Phthalate Metabolite Effects on Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Expression in Placental Cells. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2017 Oct 31; 125(10): 107010. PMID: 29089286.

13. Blum ES, Mendez DM, Roberts JM, Adibi JJ. Individual and Neighborhood Level Exposures, the Lived Experience of Race and the Risk of Preeclampsia. 2018. in preparation.