Julia Varshavsky Biography

Julia Varshavsky

Assistant Professor of Environmental Health
Bouvé College of Health Sciences & College of Engineering

[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Environmental health
Endocrine- disrupting chemicals
Maternal-child health


Dr. Julia Varshavsky is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at Northeastern University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Health Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering. Dr. Varshavsky also is a core faculty member of the Social Sciences Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). She focuses on environmental exposures and maternal-child health outcomes, as well as conducts biomonitoring studies related to advancing risk assessment in vulnerable communities.

Dr. Varshavsky is an environmental health scientist with a strong epidemiology/biostatistics and toxicology and molecular biology background and brings to Northeastern a commitment to interdisciplinary and translational research on cumulative exposure assessment and health risks in susceptible populations. Before joining Northeastern, Julia served as a research scientist for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA, Cal EPA) to conduct biomonitoring studies of health-related chemical exposures in highly impacted California communities, and before that was a postdoctoral researcher in environmental epidemiology and biostatistics for the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where she conducted biologically-based population-level studies on exposure and health risks associated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), and organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs). Specifically, her recent work highlights maternal-fetal exposure to PBDEs, PFASs, and OPFRs during mid-gestation in relation to biomarkers of placental development and disease that are associated with maternal and fetal health complications, as well as racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in PBDE exposures. Julia earned her MPH and PhD in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Her dissertation research significantly impacted the environmental health field by developing and evaluating a potency-weighted sum of anti-androgenic phthalates (reproductive/developmental toxicants) based on National Academy of Science (NAS) recommendations. Dr. Varshavsky used the metric to identify cumulative phthalates exposure disparities among Black reproductive-aged women, low-income Vietnamese immigrant nail salon workers, and children/adolescents/adults who dine out in the U.S. population, with findings published in high profile environmental health science journals. Prior to graduate school, Julia facilitated scientific dialogue and research translation around developmental impacts of environmental contaminants as the Reproductive Health Working Group coordinator for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).

Publications – Past Five Years

Varshavsky J.R., Robinson J.F., Zhou Y., Puckett K.A., Kwan E., Buarpung S., Aburajab R., Gaw S., Sen S., Gao S., Smith S.C., Park J.S., Zakharevich I., Gerona R.G., Fisher S.J., Woodruff T.J., Organophosphate flame retardants, highly fluorinated chemicals, and biomarkers of placental development and disease during mid-gestation. Toxicological Sciences, March 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfab028.

Varshavsky J.R., Sen S., Robinson J.F., Smith S.C., Frankenfield J., Wang Y., Yeh G., Park J.S., Fisher S.J., Woodruff T.J., Racial/ethnic and geographic differences in polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) levels across maternal, placental, and fetal tissues during mid-gestation, Scientific Reports, July 22, 2020, 10:12247. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69067-y.

Varshavsky J.R., Robinson J.F., Zhou Y., Puckett K.A., Kwan E., Buarpung S., Aburajab R., Gaw S., Sen S., Smith S.C., Frankenfield J., Park J.S., Fisher S.J., Woodruff T.J., Association of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) levels with biomarkers of placental development and disease during mid-gestation. Environmental Health, June 3, 2020; 19(1):61. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-020-00617-7.

Varshavsky J.R., Morello-Frosch R., Harwani S., Snider M., Petropoulou Syrago-Styliani E., Park J., Petreas M., Reynolds P., Nguyen T., Quach T., A pilot biomonitoring study of cumulative phthalates exposure among Vietnamese American nail salon workers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, January 2, 2020, 17(1), 325. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010325.

Padula A.M., Monk C., Brennan P.A., Borders A., Barrett E.S., McEvoy C.T., Foss S., Desai P., Alshawabkeh A., Wurth R., Salafia C., Fichorova R., Varshavsky J.R., Kress A., Woodruff T.J., Morello-Frosch R., A review of maternal prenatal exposures to environmental chemicals and psychosocial stressors-implications for research on perinatal outcomes in the ECHO program, Journal of Perinatology, October 15, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-019-0510-y.

Varshavsky J.R., Smith A., Wang A., Hom E., Izano M., Huang H., Padula A., Woodruff T.J., Heightened susceptibility: A review of how pregnancy and chemical exposures influence maternal health. Reproductive Toxicology, 2019. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.04.004.

Varshavsky J.R., Morello-Frosch R., Woodruff T.J., Zota A.R., Dietary sources of cumulative phthalates exposure among the U.S. General population in NHANES 2005–2014. Environment International, 2018; 115, 417–429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.02.029.