Ferguson, Former PROTECT Trainee, Highlighted as Rising Environmental Health Leader

Kelly Ferguson, Ph.D., M.P.H., and leader of the NIEHS Perinatal and Early Life Epidemiology Group, pictured in Copenhagen during her days as a PROTECT Trainee

Kelly Ferguson, Ph.D., M.P.H., and leader of the NIEHS Perinatal and Early Life Epidemiology Group, pictured in Copenhagen during her days as a PROTECT Trainee

PROTECT collaborator and former trainee, Dr. Kelly Ferguson, was recognized as one of “20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health” list. This list was released on Sept. 14 by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE). Kelly was also featured in Environmental Factor published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for this recognition. The organization noted that individuals on the list were “chosen for exceptional levels of accomplishment in work that is rigorous, dynamic, and builds critical knowledge” as well as for their leadership in work that “promises to drive environmental health science and advocacy in new directions that will demonstrate the many links between the environment and public health and catalyze policies and actions that will protect the health of children, families, and communities.” As a part of the release of this list, CHE will be hosting monthly webinars featuring those named. Kelly will be discussing her research in a webinar to be held on March 1, 2018.

While working with PROTECT, Kelly published a study designed in collaboration with Project 1 leader John Meeker, ScD, CIH, and Scientific Advisory Committee Member Thomas McElrath, MD, PhD. The study indicated that women with the highest levels of phthalate exposure during pregnancy were up to five times more likely to give birth prematurely than pregnant women with the lowest levels of exposure. Kelly, an epidemiologist, left her role as a trainee with PROTECT to join the NIEHS in early 2016 to lead the Perinatal and Early Life Epidemiology Group where she continues to research maternal exposures and preterm birth. She recently coauthored a study suggesting increased odds of preterm birth linked to oxidative stress associated with phthalate exposures.

Quoted in the Environmental Factor was Darryl Zeldin, M.D., NIEHS scientific director, who said of Ferguson, “The combination of insight and specialized training that Kelly brings to her research signals a scientist likely to play a significant role in advancing the field of environmental health.” Also quoted was NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., who served on a CHE committee that nominated individuals for recognition. She said of those selected, “These young scientists are doing exciting, innovative work that will influence how we address environmental challenges to our health in the future.”

Congratulations, and keep up the amazing work, Kelly! We are very proud of your success.