ISGlobal | Barcelona Institute for GlobalHealth

Our Team

Martine Vrijheid

Research Professor

Martine Vrijheid received her graduate and master degree in Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of Nijmegen (NL) in 1993 and her PhD in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2000. She worked as lecturer at LSHTM until 2002 and then joined the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as staff-scientist to work on environmental and occupational exposures to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

She joined CREAL (now ISGlobal Campus MAR) in 2008 where she specialises in the effects of environmental (chemical, physical, and social) exposures on child health and development. She is co-director of the INMA birth cohort study and PI and WP leader of several European collaborative projects in the area of child health (HELIX, CHICOS, Geronimo, ENRIECO, MobiExpo, MeDALL, EUROCAT, Bridge-Health).

She leads the HELIX (Human Early Life Exposome) project, a large collaborative project involving birth cohorts in 6 European countries and funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7 (EC FP7) – as part of HELIX she has spearheaded the push to collect better and more complete data on multiple exposures during early life critical periods.

Lines of Research

Her research areas, all integrating environment and child health research, include: the exposome, longitudinal birth cohort methods, emerging chemical exposures, obesogens, and RF-EMF exposures. In the area of chemical exposures and child health, her research in recent years has focused on the effects of “new” exposures (such as bisphenol A, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds) during pre and postnatal periods on health and development of children. She leads several projects to investigate the role of different chemical exposures in the development of obesity (obesogens) and other cardiometabolic outcomes.

She has in recent year established a research line on the Exposome. The “Exposome” concept encompasses the totality of exposures from conception onwards, complementing the genome. It provides a promising concept for a more systematic and comprehensive assessment of the role of environmental exposures in disease etiology, but one that faces many challenges. She has have spearheaded the push to collect better and more complete data on multiple exposures during early life critical periods by obtaining the HELIX (Human Early Life Exposome) grant, now in its fourth year. As PI and WP leader of two EC FP7 grants, CHICOS (Developing a Child Cohort Strategy in Europe) and ENRIECO (Environmental Health Risks in European Birth Cohorts) she has been instrumental in the building of a network of birth cohorts in Europe, resulting in a framework for data sharing and harmonization across more than 30 European birth cohorts. This work has resulted in over 20 studies that combine individual data across cohorts. The coordination of birth cohorts is being continued under the DG-SANTE funded BRIDGE-HEALTH project where Martine Vrijheid leads birth cohort related tasks in 2 WPs.

Main Publications

  • Vrijheid M, Slama R, Robinson O,... The human early-life exposome (HELIX): project rationale and design. Environ Health Perspect. 2014;122(6):535-44
  • Gascon M, Casas M, Morales E,…Vrijheid M. Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates and childhood respiratory tract infections and allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015;135(2):370-378.
  • Agay-Shay K, Martinez D, Valvi D, …Vrijheid M. Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals during Pregnancy and Weight at 7 Years of Age: A Multi-pollutant Approach. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1030-7.
  • Slama R, Ballester F, Casas M,...Vrijheid M. Epidemiologic tools to study the influence of environmental factors on fecundity and pregnancy-related outcomes. Epidemiol Rev. 2014;36(1):148-64.
  • Valvi D, Casas M, Mendez MA,…Vrijheid M. Prenatal bisphenol a urine concentrations and early rapid growth and overweight risk in the offspring. Epidemiology. 2013;24(6):791-9.