Dr. Straughen is a perinatal epidemiologist with broad expertise in studying prenatal factors that influence maternal and child health across the life course. She has a strong interest in the role of the placenta in mediating perinatal and children’s health outcomes and has several on-going projects that investigate relationships between prenatal and early life exposures, placental function, and childhood health outcomes. Accordingly, much of her research is investigating various aspects of the placenta, including metabolomics and epigenomics and how it might influence pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth as well as more distal childhood health outcomes, such as autism spectrum disorder (DoD AR180175). She is currently MPI of a project that is part of a NIEHS Superfund grant (1P42ES030991). This project is investigating the impact of volatile organic compound exposure on the risk of preterm birth in Detroit in a cohort of approximately 1100 pregnancies. This project will investigate changes placental epigenetics and gene expression that may be associated with exposure to volatile organic compounds. In addition, Dr. Straughen is MPI of a birth cohort in ECHO (Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes), a nationwide research project that seeks to learn how the environment impacts children’s health (UG3OD035518). Dr. Straughen previously led placental collection and investigation into placental metabolomics within the ECHO framework. Finally, Dr. Straughen is engaged in collaborations aimed at improving pregnancy outcomes by addressing social determinants of health among African American women at Henry Ford Health (Women Inspired Neighborhood Network: Detroit) and across Detroit (Hope Starts Here).
Dr. Straughen received her PhD from the University of South Florida in 2010. She completed her postdoctoral training at Wayne State University and joined the Department of Public Health Sciences at Henry Ford Health in 2015. She is currently an associate scientist in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Henry Ford Health. In addition, she is an Assistant Professor - Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Biology, College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.