Timothy Ciesielski

I am a transdisciplinary public health researcher who is interested in developing effective new ways to study and address complex problems.  Specifically my research interests have been focused on utilizing environmental, nutritional, and molecular epidemiologic approaches to investigate perinatal and neurocognitive health issues. Adverse outcomes in these areas have massive public health consequences and the long term goal is to identify and ameliorate modifiable etiologic factors.  This work requires the coordination of information from many disciplines and has led to my newer efforts in transdisciplinary communication, diverse evidence integration, and planetary health. For examples of my work please see:  pubmed/26303856, pubmed/22289429,  pubmed/23379984pubmed/25071867pubmed/27893987Roundtable-with-Katherine-Clark, and pubmed/28142318.

Brief Biography: I have a doctorate in Environmental Health from the Harvard School of Public Health (Sc.D. from the Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk Program), as well as an M.D. and M.P.H. from the University of Virginia.  More recently I worked in the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences at Dartmouth, and then held a position on the public health faculty at Regis College, before becoming a Research Scholar with the Ronin Institute.

Research Summary: The trajectory of my work thus far has brought me to a useful perspective on the conduct of collaborative health research.  The work I did at Harvard suggests that cadmium exposure at levels that are common in our communities may have adverse neurocognitive effects.  This work would not have been possible without the thoughtful integration of information from neuropsychology, toxicology, and epidemiology.  Subsequently my team-based endeavors at Dartmouth further demonstrated that transdisciplinary communication can improve the efficacy of health research.  In one of these projects we developed a metric that can enhance genetic analyses of complex disease by integrating data from observational epidemiology studies, bioinformatics databases, and laboratory experiments.  In another project from this era, we identified an epigenetic link between maternal psychiatric symptoms, poor fetal growth, and altered leptin signaling.  When combined with evidence from nutritional epidemiology and laboratory experiments, these findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acid deficiency may be a common contributing factor in adverse pregnancy outcomes worldwide.  Along these lines, the provision uncontaminated omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. fish oils) may be undervalued as an ecosystem service and food system characteristic.  Overall, I have learned that solutions to research and intervention issues can be obscured by overly narrow approaches.  Holistic approaches can be daunting, but we need them to address complex problems.

In my ongoing work I am aiming to: 1) further advance our epidemiologic methods in the context of multifactor etiologies, 2) characterize sensitive subpopulations in cadmium risk assessment by evaluating genetic variants, nutrient intakes, and their interactions, 3) more clearly explain the heterogeneity in the omega-3 epidemiologic literature, 4)  characterize links between human systems, ecosystems, and public health, and 5) improve our ability to use research evidence in our public discourse and collective decisions.

To contact Tim, email timothy [dot] ciesielski at-sign ronininstitute {dot} org