Roberta F. White, PhD

Associate Dean for Research
Roberta White
(617) 638-4620rwhite@bu.edu
Talbot – T458W
View full profile at BUMC

Biography

Roberta F. White is a trans-disciplinary scientist whose research focuses on the effects of exposure to industrial pollutants on brain function. Initially trained as a clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist, her work employs cognitive and behavioral test measures and neuroimaging techniques to identify pollutant effects on the central nervous system. Combining the fields of public health, behavioral neuroscience, and epidemiology as well as clinical neuropsychology, she has explored the effects of occupational lead and solvent exposures on cognitive and affective expressions of brain function; elucidated prenatal effects of exposure to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls on cognitive function and neuropsychological outcomes; identified chemical exposures that are associated with the occurrence of Gulf War Illness (GWI) following the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and uncovered cognitive and neuroimaging evidence of structural brain damage associated with GWI and sarin exposure in the GW veteran population. Her work has had significant public health impact in setting standards for occupational exposure to lead, environmental exposure to methylmercury in utero, and acceptance of GWI as a physical illness related to chemical exposures in theatre. She has written extensively on the clinical correlates of encephalopathies caused by exposure to chemical pollutants and co-wrote the World Health Organization criteria for diagnosis of solvent encephalopathy that are used internationally. Dr. White’s research and clinical career have led to leadership positions in the field of public health and psychology. She has been Chair of the Department of Environmental Health since 2003, enhancing the department’s stature as a leader in community environmental health, environmental epidemiology and toxicology. She is Associate Dean for Research at Boston University School of Public Health, where she oversees the research portfolio, which has grown in size and funding diversification under her leadership. In addition, she is Scientific Director of the Congressionally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness, which advises the Veterans Administration on its GWI research portfolio. She has testified before Congress and the Institute of Medicine many times in her areas of research expertise, particularly GWI. Prior to beginning her tenure as Chair of Environmental Health, she ran the neuropsychology programs at BUSM and VA Boston Medical Center, overseeing clinical work as well as APA-approved doctoral and post-doctoral training programs in clinical neuropsychology. She also directed a VA-funded center on Environmental Hazards through two funding cycles before leaving the VA to work fulltime at BUSPH.

Other Positions:

  • Professor, Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Professor, Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Chair of Environmental Health, Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Mentor for Graduate Medical Students, Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences

Education

  • Michigan State University, BA
  • Wayne State University, MA
  • Wayne State University, PhD

Classes Taught

  • SPHEH962

Publications

  • Published on 1/1/2013

    White RF. . What is life?. Bostonia. 2013; p. 42.

  • Published on 1/1/2013

    Janulewicz, PA, Killiany R, White, RF, Weinberg J, Winter M, Martin, B, Aschengrau, A. . Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging in an Adult Cohort Following Prenatal and Early Postnatal Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated Drinking Water. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. Jul-Aug;38:13-20. PMID: 23571160 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC3893699 [Available on 2014/7/1]. 2013.

  • Published on 6/19/2012

    Getz KD, Janulewicz PA, Rowe S, Weinberg JM, Winter MR, Martin BR, Vieira VM, White RF, Aschengrau A. Prenatal and early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene and adult vision. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Sep; 120(9):1327-32.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/12/2012

    Janulewicz PA, White RF, Martin BM, Winter MR, Weinberg JM, Vieira V, Aschengrau A. Adult neuropsychological performance following prenatal and early postnatal exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2012 May-Jun; 34(3):350-9.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/20/2012

    Aschengrau A, Weinberg JM, Janulewicz PA, Romano ME, Gallagher LG, Winter MR, Martin BR, Vieira VM, Webster TF, White RF, Ozonoff DM. Occurrence of mental illness following prenatal and early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water: a retrospective cohort study. Environ Health. 2012; 11:2.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/2/2011

    Aschengrau A, Weinberg JM, Janulewicz PA, Romano ME, Gallagher LG, Winter MR, Martin BR, Vieira VM, Webster TF, White RF, Ozonoff DM. Affinity for risky behaviors following prenatal and early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water: a retrospective cohort study. Environ Health. 2011; 10:102.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/27/2011

    White RF, Palumbo CL, Yurgelun-Todd DA, Heaton KJ, Weihe P, Debes F, Grandjean P. Functional MRI approach to developmental methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyl neurotoxicity. Neurotoxicology. 2011 Dec; 32(6):975-80.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2011

    White RF, Sullivan K. . Response to is Gulf War Illness “Real”: The jury is still out by DR Orme. The Federal Practitioner. 2011.

  • Published on 3/23/2010

    Hansen MK, McVey MJ, White RF, Legos JJ, Brusq JM, Grillot DA, Issandou M, Barone FC. Selective CETP inhibition and PPARalpha agonism increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL cholesterol in human ApoB100/human CETP transgenic mice. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Jun; 15(2):196-202.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/12/2010

    Hoffman K, Webster TF, Weinberg JM, Aschengrau A, Janulewicz PA, White RF, Vieira VM. Spatial analysis of learning and developmental disorders in upper Cape Cod, Massachusetts using generalized additive models. Int J Health Geogr. 2010; 9:7.

    Read at: PubMed

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