EVERSON RESEARCH GROUP - Investigating the Molecular Links Between Early Life Exposures and Children's Health Outcomes

The Team

Todd M. Everson, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Everson is an Assistant Professor in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Dr. Everson’s research focuses on the impacts of pre- and peri-natal exposures on DNA methylation and gene expression, and their potential consequences on children’s health. His research is supported by the NICHD (R01 HD084515) to study relationships between longitudinal variations in DNA methylation with developmental outcomes among children born very preterm and by the NIEHS (R01 ES032176-01A1) to study how prenatal PFAS exposures effect placental epigenomics, birth outcomes, and metabolic programming.

Dr. Everson has an MPH in Health Care Disparities from Oregon Health and Science University, and received a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of South Carolina in 2015. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College and Emory University in 2018, focused on environmental epigenetics, then joined the faculty in the Department of Environmental Health at Emory University. Dr. Everson also holds secondary appointments in the Department of Epidemiology and the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences with the Genetics and Molecular Biology Program.

Kenyaita Hodge

Doctoral Student

Kenyaita Hodge is a doctoral student in the Genetics and Molecular Biology program. She graduated from Virginia State University with a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Mathematics. In 2013, she received her Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia. Kenyaita’s undergraduate and Master’s theses highlighted the racial/ethnic disproportion of preterm birth in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA and the state of New York, respectively. She worked at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Professor Struan Grant’s Human Genetics lab and the Center of Spatial and Functional Genomic,  where she was the Resource Coordinator and Research Assistant for four years. As a second year in the Genetics and Molecular Biology doctoral program, Kenyaita joined Dr. Everson’s lab and is studying the remodeling of epigenetic regulation, specifically DNA methylation, in early childhood. We are particularly interested in the first year of life as this is one of the most dynamic periods in human development, and changes in the epigenetic landscape during this critical developmental window can impact health throughout the life-course. When Kenyaita is not working in the lab or in class she is traveling the world with her DSLR camera in hand.

Cynthia Perez

Doctoral Student

Cynthia Perez is a PhD student in the Genetics and Molecular Biology program at Emory. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology at San Francisco State University. Her MS thesis focused on genealogical searching, a forensic technique used to identify a suspect through their long distant relatives, such as a third cousin, using a database containing genome wide variation data. She investigated rates of familial misidentification through computational simulations. As a second year in the Genetics and Molecular Biology doctoral program, she is analyzing epigenetic perturbations in the placenta as they relate to prenatal environmental exposures, integrated with transcriptomic and metabolomic data to assess functional response. Cynthia is interested in computational genomics and health disparities research.

Uriel Paniagua

MPH Student

Uriel Paniagua is an MPH student in the epidemiology department of the Rollins School of Public Health. In May 2020 he completed his Bachelor’s in Statistics and Chemistry with a minor in Biology at the University of Georgia. He has been working in clinical research with Accel Research Sites since December 2020, assisting with cardiology and neurology clinical trials. He has also been working as a data analyst with the Hubert Department of Global Health, examining the relationship between household WASH conditions and nutritional and growth outcomes among a cohort of very low birth weight infants. He is working with Dr. Everson on his master’s thesis examining epigenetic age acceleration, neonatal morbidities, and neurodevelopmental outcomes among very preterm infants in the NOVI cohort. 

Research Group Alumni

Stefan H. Graw, Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr. Graw developed an epigenetic age predictor that is specific to neonates that were born prematurely. He also contributed to studies of how prenatal exposures are associated with neonatal DNA methylation, and whether neonatal DNA methylation is predictive of developmental outcomes in early childhood.

Jinze Li, MSPH Graduate: Jinze Li completed a thesis project that examined the association between maternal night shift work and stochastic epigenetic mutations (SEMs) in placenta.

Tim Tynan, MPH Graduate: Tim Tynan completed a thesis project that examined the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and epigenetic age acceleration in newborns.