|Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine,
Division of Women’s Health, Harvard Medical School
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Harvard School of Public Health
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Medicine/Women's Health, One Brigham Circle, 3rd Floor
1620 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02120
Dr. Rich-Edwards is an epidemiologist focused on the intersection of a woman’s health and that of her children, investigating social and biological pathways though which health and disease processes develop. She is the Co-director of the Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology track at Harvard School of Public Health, where she directs an advanced course in reproductive epidemiology.
Dr. Rich-Edwards’ research has highlighted how the physical development of young women presages both their fertility and their risk of metabolic disorders. Her early work revealed that overweight and inactivity contribute more to female infertility than underweight and over activity, overturning the then prevailing paradigm. More recent work has explored how female reproductive fitness, including menstrual function, fertility, fibroids, and pregnancy complications, as well as post-pregnancy behaviors like lactation, predict chronic disease.
Determinants of growth also affect risk of chronic disease. Dr. Rich-Edwards’ research has helped to establish inverse associations of birthweight with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Childhood growth is also associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but higher risk of breast cancer. Having been breastfed may be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Her early investigations into the impact of milk on prepubertal plasma vitamin D and somatotropin levels led to a large randomized clinical trial of vitamin D fortified milk and supplements to improve childhood health in Mongolia.
As an epidemiologist, Dr. Rich-Edwards’ analyses draw from large cohorts that are the fruit of collaborative teams. She founded two new cohorts within the Nurses Health II study, and based on her occupational study indicating a correlation between work schedule and pregnancy outcome, a pilot contract for a web-based Nurses Health Study III was created. She also co-founded a subcohort of 68,000 nurses with data on physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, whose size has enabled unique analyses of the impact of childhood abuse on chronic disease outcomes. Current work seeks to detail the pathways through which this occurs, to reduce the lifelong health impact of early abuse. Outside of the Nurses Health Studies, she co-founded Project Viva, a birth cohort of over 2,000 women and children, in which she examined predictors of preterm delivery and maternal depression, interests that grew out of earlier investigations of racial disparities in pregnancy outcomes.
- de Jonge LL, Harris HR, Rich-Edwards JW, Willett WC, Forman MR, Jaddoe VW, Michels KB. Parental smoking in pregnancy and the risks of adult-onset hypertension. Hypertension. 2013 Feb; 61(2):494-500.
- Stuart JJ, Bairey Merz CN, Berga SL, Miller VM, Ouyang P, Shufelt CL, Steiner M, Wenger NK, Rich-Edwards JW. Maternal recall of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy: a systematic review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013 Jan; 22(1):37-47.
- Bertone-Johnson ER, Whitcomb BW, Missmer SA, Karlson EW, Rich-Edwards JW. Inflammation and early-life abuse in women. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Dec; 43(6):611-20.
- Ertel KA, James-Todd T, Kleinman K, Krieger N, Gillman M, Wright R, Rich-Edwards J. Racial discrimination, response to unfair treatment, and depressive symptoms among pregnant black and African American women in the United States. Ann Epidemiol. 2012 Dec; 22(12):840-6.
- Pedersen GS, Mortensen LH, Gerster M, Rich-Edwards J, Andersen AM. Preterm Birth and Birthweight-for-Gestational Age among Immigrant Women in Denmark 1978-2007: A Nationwide Registry Study. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Nov; 26(6):534-42.