Frederica Perera

Full Interview (Duration 33:57)

General Contents and Links to Video Segments

Title Duration
Part 1 – Early Career 10:58
Part 2 – Current Research 12:57
Part 3 – Solutions 9:17
Part 4 – Five Favorites 4:21
Full Interview 33:57


“If there is any word that I treasure more than any other, it is ‘prevention,’ the need to prevent disease.”

“[W]e have not had in this country a preventive approach in the sense of requirements or testing — thorough testing — of chemicals before they are produced and released to the environment often in large quantities. And we should follow the example of the European Untion . . . , where the burden is not on the public or on government agencies to show that there is a risk . . . but the burden is on the manufacturers to show that their chemicals are safe.”

Specific Contents and Links to Video Segments

Part 1 – Early Career (10:58)

  1. How did you become interested in researching the effects of environmental pollutants on human health? 00:40
  2. Was there any event that particularly triggered your interest in studying environmental toxins? 01:30
  3. What led you to pursue a degree in Environmental Health Sciences and Public Health? 02:50
  4. Tell me a bit more about you learned in your early collaboration with Dr. Weinstein. 06:20
  5. How did the results of that study influence your work? 07:25
  6. How did your research in molecular epidemiology evolve to focus on the fetus and other susceptible groups? 08:40

Part 2 – Current Research (12:57)

  1. Why did you begin studying inner-city communities in New York? 10:25
  2. Please describe your work at the Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia. 11:45
  3. Please say more about how your new epidemiological methods work and what you’ve learned? 15:00
  4. What have you found about prenatal exposures to air pollutants and other toxic chemicals? 16:40
  5. Have you seen examples of where decreased toxic exposures have yielded positive health effects? 18:50
  6. What can you say about the interrelationship of toxic chemicals and climate change on young children? 19:50

Part 3 – Solutions (9:17)

  1. What, if any, regulations do you think should be enacted to address some of these problems? 22:10
  2. Are you at all optimistic about the prospects for such regulatory reform? 23:50
  3. Can more be done to give the public better information about environmental health risks? 24:25
  4. Please describe your collaboration with community organizations and policymakers in New York. 26:25
  5. What are some of the challenges to getting the public more involved in efforts for change? 28:50

Part 4 – Five Favorites (4:21)

  1. What mentor had the greatest influence on your work? 30:30
  2. What do you consider to be the best wide-audience book, article, or movie related to your field? 30:50
  3. What do you consider to be the most important academic book or article? 31:08
  4. Which of your scholarly publications would you recommend to viewers? 31:45
  5. Which activist or community organization do you most admire? 32:45
Frederica Perera

Frederica P. Perera, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.


Dr. Perera is widely recognized and lauded for her accomplishments in the field of children’s environmental health. With her expertise focused on molecular epidemiology, environment-susceptibility interactions in cancer, developmental damage, asthma, and risk assessment, Dr. Perera’s work has had far-reaching impact in broadening understanding of the impact of the environment on health.

Dr. Perera’s Links

Five Favorites

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