PITTSBURGH, April 23, 2015— A tireless champion of children’s health whose research has revealed how prenatal and childhood exposures to common environmental toxicants can cause neurodevelopmental problems, cancer and other diseases was today named as a recipient of a prestigious Heinz Award for the Environment. The accolade was announced by the Heinz Family Foundation and includes an unrestricted cash award of $250,000.
Dr. Frederica Perera, DrPH, Ph.D., founder and director of the Columbia (University) Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health, is being recognized for pioneering the field of molecular epidemiology and for her decades-long research to illuminate the health consequences children suffer from prenatal and childhood exposures to hazardous chemicals, for the benefit of parents, health professionals and policymakers.
She is one of six winners of the 20th Heinz Awards. The accolades honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz by recognizing those who have made outstanding contributions in one of five critically important categories: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment.
Dr. Perera’s team at CCCEH is renowned for its Mothers and Newborns Study, which tracks a large group of children in the United States, specifically in New York City, from womb through adolescence, and for its parallel studies in Poland and China. The research examines how environmental toxicants invade young bodies, causing changes at the molecular level that have been linked to cancer, asthma and neurobehavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).