Dr. Michelle Williams is a Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), the Director of the Harvard Catalyst Health Disparities and Population Health Research Programs, and the Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH.
Her research interests lie principally, but not exclusively, in the field of reproductive and perinatal epidemiology. She has spent the last two decades focusing on integrating epidemiological, biological, and molecular approaches into rigorously designed clinical epidemiology research projects that have led to greater understandings of the etiology and pathophysiology of placental abruption, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Her research programs were developed through (1) identifying gaps in the literature; (2) constructing methodologically rigorous, versatile and robust epidemiological data capture systems and networks (epidemiology platforms) in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and South America; and (3) proactively and strategically integrating biochemical and molecular biomarkers onto that epidemiology platform.
Dr. Williams is currently the Principal Investigator of three large National Institutes of Health-funded projects: (1) an observational study designed to identify pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia and to assess mechanistic hypotheses to explain the co-occurrence of migraines and preeclampsia in some women; (2) an observational study of 6,000 Peruvian women to determine whether the risk of preterm delivery is influenced by maternal mental health status and/or exposure to violence before and during pregnancy; and (3) another observational study designed to identify acute and chronic risk factors for placental abruption; and to search for genetic variants in both maternal and fetal genomes (900 maternal-infant pairs) that contribute to an increased risk of placental abruption. To date, Dr. Williams has authored or co-authored more than 350 original research reports and has received numerous research and mentoring awards, including the American Public Health Association's Abraham Lilienfeld Award and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.