Michelle Williams, ScD, SM, MS

Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthMAW
Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Director, Harvard Catalyst Health Disparities Research Program and Population Health Research Program

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
677 Huntington Ave.
Boston MA 02115

Phone 617-432-6477

Email mawilliams@hsph.harvard.edu

Fax 617-566-7805

Research Interests
My research interests lie principally, but not exclusively, in the field of reproductive and perinatal epidemiology. I have spent the last two decades focused on integrating epidemiological, biological and molecular approaches into rigorously designed clinical epidemiology research projects that have led to greater understandings of the etiology and pathophysiology of placental abruption, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. My research programs were developed through (1) identifying gaps in the literature; (2) constructing methodologically rigorous, versatile and robust epidemiological data capture systems and networks (epidemiology platforms) in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and South America; and (3) proactively and strategically integrating biochemical and molecular biomarkers onto that epidemiology platform. I have fully exploited the arsenal of epidemiology study designs (case-control, self-matched case-crossover, and prospective cohort studies) to answer important questions concerning the etiology and pathophysiology of a relatively broad spectrum of adverse reproductive and perinatal outcomes.My overarching goal has been, and continues to be, to use biological and molecular biomarkers as objective measures of exposure (e.g., dietary intake, nutritional status) and/or as validated pre-clinical proximal determinants (e.g., oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, endothelial dysfunction) of discrete outcomes of clinical, public and global health importance. To date, much of my work has been focused on advancing knowledge of the etiology of selected highly relevant, but fairly understudied perinatal outcomes. I have also sought to expand the literature by searching for and then confirming novel/non-traditional risk factors of those outcomes. My research programs have been largely funded by a number of research awards from the National Institutes of Health. To date, I have authored or co-authored more than 380 original research reports. I am Principal Investigator of three large National Institutes of Health-funded projects: (1) A Prospective Cohort Study of Migraine, Platelet Activation, and Preeclampsia, an observational study designed to identify pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia and to assess mechanistic hypotheses to explain the co-occurrence of migraines and preeclampsia in some women; (2) A Cohort Study of Preterm Delivery in Relation to Partner Abuse, Mood and Anxiety Disorders, an observational study of 6,000 Peruvian women to determine whether the risk of preterm delivery is influenced by maternal mental health status and/or exposure to violence before and during pregnancy; and (3) Triggers of Placental Abruption: A Case Crossover Study of an Ischemic Placental Disease, another observational study designed to identify acute and chronic risk factors for placental abruption; and to search for genetic variants in both maternal and fetal genomes (900 maternal-infant pairs) that contribute to an increased risk of placental abruption.

Selected Publications
  1. Stoner L, Bonner C, Credeur D, Lambrick D, Faulkner J, Wadsworth D, Williams MA. Reliability of oscillometric central hemodynamic responses to an orthostatic challenge. Atherosclerosis. 2015 Aug;241(2):761-5. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.06.041. Epub 2015 Jun 27. View in: PubMed 
  2. Young Y, Abdolhosseini P, Brown F, Faulkner J, Lambrick D, Williams MA, Stoner L. Reliability of oscillometric central blood pressure and wave reflection readings: effects of posture and fasting. J Hypertens. 2015 Aug;33(8):1588-93. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000604. View in: PubMed 
  3. Mohanty AF, Thompson ML, Burbacher TM, Siscovick DS, Williams MA, Enquobahrie DA. Periconceptional Seafood Intake and Fetal Growth. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2015 Jul 3. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12205. View in: PubMed 
  4. Enquobahrie DA, Moore A, Muhie S, Tadesse MG, Lin S, Williams MA. Early Pregnancy Maternal Blood DNA Methylation in Repeat Pregnancies and Change in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Status-A Pilot Study. Reprod Sci. 2015 Jul;22(7):904-10. doi: 10.1177/1933719115570903. Epub 2015 Feb 11. View in: PubMed
  5. Chen X, Wang R, Zee P, Lutsey PL, Javaheri S, Alcántara C, Jackson CL, Williams MA, Redline S. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Sleep Disturbances: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Sleep. 2015; 38(6):877-88. View in: PubMed
  6. Denis M, Enquobahrie DA, Tadesse MG, Gelaye B, Sanchez SE, Salazar M, Ananth CV, Williams MA. Placental genome and maternal-placental genetic interactions: a genome-wide and candidate gene association study of placental abruption. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 30;9(12):e116346. View in: PubMed
  7. Wosu AC, Gelaye B, Valdimarsdóttir U, Kirschbaum C, Stalder T, Shields AE, Williams MA. Hair cortisol in relation to sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics in a multiethnic US sample. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Nov 28. pii: S1047-2797(14)00527-4. View in: PubMed
  8. Orta OR, Gelaye B, Qiu C, Stoner L, Williams MA. Depression, anxiety and stress among pregnant migraineurs in a pacific-northwest cohort. J Affect Disord. 2014 Oct 22;172C:390-396. View in: PubMed
  9.  Luque-Fernandez MA, Ananth CV, Sanchez SE, Qiu CF, Hernandez-Diaz S, Valdimarsdottir U, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Absence of circadian rhythms of preterm premature rupture of membranes and preterm placental abruption. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Oct 15;24(12):882-887. View in: PubMed
  10. Williams MA, Sanchez SE, Ananth CV, Hevner K, Qiu C, Enquobahrie DA. Maternal blood mitochondrial DNA copy number and placental abruption risk: results from a preliminary study. Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2013; 4(2):120-7. View in: PubMed
  11. Sanchez SE, Alva AV, Diez Chang G, Qiu C, Yanez D, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Risk of spontaneous preterm birth in relation to maternal exposure to intimate partner violence during pregnancy in peru. Matern Child Health J. 2013 Apr; 17(3):485-92. View in: PubMed

For a complete list of publications, click here.