Faculty Profile

John Meeker

John Meeker, ScD, CIH

  • Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
  • Professor, Global Public Health
  • Senior Associate Dean for Research

Dr. John Meeker holds a BS in Industrial Technology from Iowa State University, as well as MS and Doctor of Science (ScD) degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering and Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk, respectively, from Harvard University, where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Environmental and Reproductive Epidemiology. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Dr. Meeker's work is wide-ranging, and focuses on defining sources, magnitudes and consequences of human exposure to environmental and occupational contaminants, as well as identifying and evaluating strategies to control harmful exposures. Much of his current research involves human exposure science and reproductive and developmental epidemiology studies of known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, BPA, pesticides, PFAS, flame retardants, and others. Dr. Meeker is principal investigator on numerous large-scale research studies, and has served on various editorial, expert peer-review and advisory boards/panels for EPA, NIH, CDC, NAS, and others in recent years.

  • ScD, Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk, Harvard University, 2004
  • MS, Environmental Science and Engineering, Harvard University, 2001
  • BS, Industrial Technology, Iowa State University, 1999

Research Projects:
Dr. Meeker and his research group (https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/meekerlab/home) have been involved in projects that span a range of topics in environmental and occupational health. Recent interests include exposure assessment and epidemiology studies investigating health impacts associated with exposure to pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, flame retardants, PCBs, tobacco smoke, and other agents, as well as approaches to evaluate, minimize, and account for exposure measurement error in epidemiology studies. Within this area of study much of the research the team conducts has a particular focus on the study of exposure biomarkers and environmental factors associated with reproductive health and child development.

Bisphenol and Phthalate Exposure in Relation to Fetal Growth and Preterm Birth
This study will assess environmental risk factors for adverse effects on fetal growth and preterm birth from a recently completed cohort study of over 1000 live birth singletons in the Boston area. The study will utilize state-of-the-art methods for measuring urinary BPA and phthalate concentrations, and for assessing molecular epidemiologic mechanistic pathway markers (oxidative stress, inflammation and endocrine disruption) and markers of individual susceptibility in biological samples collected during each trimester of pregnancy.

Environmental Exposures, Early Iron Deficiency and Child Neurodevelopment
The proposed study aims to: 1) Investigate the association between neurodevelopment and early life exposure to pesticides, metals (manganese and lead), and STS individually and in combination (i.e., additive and multiplicative effects); 2) Test for interactions between these agents and ID on neurodevelopmental outcomes; and 3) Determine whether iron supplementation in pregnancy and/or in infancy ameliorates adverse impacts of environmental exposures on neurodevelopment outcome. An administrative supplement ($76,000) was granted in 2014 by NLM/NIEHS to incorporate information science expertise and technology into this complex study.

Maternal Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Pregnancy Outcomes
There is evidence over the last several decades of a decline in human fertility that coincided with the increase in widespread human exposure to synthetic chemicals that alter endocrine signaling. Flame retardants are a class of widely used chemicals that have been shown to adversely affect fertility in experimental animals. The proposed study is designed to determine the impact of flame retardants on both the maternal and paternal contribution to clinical pregnancy outcomes.

Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PRoTECT)
Project 1: Molecular Epidemiology Study of Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth in Puerto Rico
The PROTECT Superfund Research Program (SRP) uses a unique controlled island setting of Puerto Rico, which has a high concentration of Superfund sites and the highest recorded rates of preterm birth, to better understand contaminant fate and transport in karst geology as it relates to human exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The program involves 5 research and translation cores and 5 research projects, including projects in environmental engineering, analytical chemistry, epidemiology, and toxicology. Project 1 is a state-of-the-art epidemiology study of 1200 pregnant women being recruited in the northern coast of Puerto Rico to explore the impacts of exposure to chemical mixtures, sources and pathways of exposure to emerging chemicals of concern among pregnant women, and investigate biological mechanisms involved in the relationship between exposure to chemicals and preterm birth. An administrative supplement ($89,000) was granted in 2014 to provide infrastructure for following children born into the cohort for future study of developmental impacts from early life exposure to chemicals.

Lifecourse Exposures and diet: Epigenetics, Maturation and Metabolic Syndrome

Project 1: Perinatal and Peripubertal Mixtures, Physical Growth, and Sexual Maturation
In the NIEHS/EPA Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center (CEHC), we will conduct three research Projects examining the complex interactions among environmental exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and diet and their effects on physical growth, the tempo of sexual maturation and risk of metabolic syndrome. Project 1 will expand upon the pilot work of the University of Michigan (UM) Formative P20 Children's Center to undertake a more robust prospective assessment of the relationship between exposure to a select mixture of EDCs (phthalates, BPA, lead, and cadmium) and the tempo of physical growth and timing of sexual maturation in a long-standing longitudinal cohort study in Mexico.

Magnetic Field Exposure, Fertility and Pregnancy
This study will recruit women attempting to become pregnant to wear real-time EMF exposure monitors and activity monitors before and after conception prior to explore the relationship between EMF exposure and miscarriage. This study is also designed to enable the exploration of the relationships between pregnancy, activity levels, and average and peak EMF exposure levels.

Ferguson KK, Rosen EM, Rosario Z, Feric Z, Calafat AM, McElrath TF, Velez Vega C, Cordero JF, Alshawabkeh A and Meeker JD. (2019) Environmental phthalate exposure and preterm birth in the PROTECT birth cohort. Environ Int. (In Press). PMID 31430608

Brown P, Velez Vega CM, Murphy CB, Welton M, Torres H, Rosario Z, Alshawabkeh A, Cordero JF, Padilla IY and Meeker JD. (2018) Hurricanes and the environmental justice island: Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. Environ Justice. 11(4):148-143. PMID 31131071

Silver MK, Shao J, Zhu B, Chen M, Xia Y, Kaciroti N, Lozoff B and Meeker JD (2017). Prenatal naled and chlorpyrifos exposure is associated with deficits in infant motor function in a cohort of Chinese infants. Environ Int. 106:248-256. PMID 28602489

Watkins DJ, Sanchez B, Tellez-Rojo MM, Lee JM, Mercado-Garcia A, Blank-Goldenberg C, Peterson KE and Meeker JD (2017). Phthalate and bisphenol A exposure during in utero windows of susceptibility in relation to reproductive hormones and pubertal development in girls. Environ Res, 159:143-151. PMID 28800472

Ferguson KK, McElrath TF, Meeker JD. Environmental phthalate exposure and preterm birth. (2014) JAMA Pediatr. 168(1):61-67. PMID 24247736

Meeker JD, Cantonwine DE, Rivera-Gonzalez LO, Ferguson KK, Mukherjee B, Calafat AM, Ye X, Anzalota Del Toro LV, Crespo N, Jimenez-Velez B, Alshawabkeh A, and Cordero JF. (2013). Distribution, variability and predictors of urinary concentrations of phenols and parabens among pregnant women in Puerto Rico. Environ Sci Technol. 47(7):3439-3447. PMID: 23469879

Meeker JD. (2012). Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Child Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 166(10):952-958. PMID: 22664748

Meeker JD, Calafat AM, Hauser R. (2012). Urinary phthalate metabolites and their biotransformation products: understanding their temporal variability among men and women. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 22(4):376-385. PMID: 22354176

Meeker JD, Susi PL, Flynn MR (2010). Hexavalent chromium exposure and control in welding tasks with an emphasis on construction. J Occup Environ Hyg, 7(11):607-615. PMID: 20845207

Meeker JD, Sathyanarayana S, Swan SH. (2009). Phthalates and other additives in plastics: Human exposure and associated health outcomes. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 364(1526):2097-113. PMID: 19528058

Email: meekerj@umich.edu 
Office: 734-764-7184
Address: 1835 SPH I
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

For media inquiries: sph.media@umich.edu