Jennifer A. Rusiecki
EducationJennifer A. Rusiecki completed her Ph.D. in Epidemiology in 2002 from Yale University, School of Medicine. Prior to that she earned a BS in Economics from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (1989), a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (1998), and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Yale University, School of Medicine (1998). After completing her Ph.D. in Epidemiology she did a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (2002-2005).
BiographyJennifer Rusiecki is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Uniformed Services University (USU), Bethesda, MD. She received a Ph.D. in epidemiology from Yale University in 2002 and a joint Master of Public Health (MPH)-Master of Environmental Studies (MES) from Yale University in 1998. Dr. Rusiecki completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer epidemiology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics in 2005. Later that year, she joined the faculty at the Uniformed Services University, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics. Her background is in occupational and environmental epidemiology. Her research focus is on both environmental and occupational determinants of disease in human populations, with an emphasis on exposures to pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, industrial exposures (asbestos, solvents, lead, oils/greases, wood dust), and exposures in disaster response settings, in particular oil spills. She teaches “Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology” and co-teaches “Epidemiologic Methods” at USU.
In the last decade, Dr. Rusiecki initiated a prospective cohort study of Coast Guard responders who were involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill clean-up in 2010. This study is helping to elucidate both acute and long term health effects of exposures related to oil spill clean-up work and disaster response. She has also focused on other disaster responder populations, including the Hurricane Katrina Coast Guard responders.
Dr. Rusiecki is a retired Coast Guard Reserve officer. After graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1989, she served on active duty aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon and later as a commercial ship inspector (“marine inspector”) at the Marine Inspection Office, New York (1991-95). As a reservist (1995-2014), she continued work as a marine inspector, and in her last eight years worked at Coast Guard Headquarters in the Directorate of Health, Safety, and Work Life (CG-11), carrying out studies focused on the health of disaster responders.
Another focus of Dr. Rusiecki’s research is studying environmental and occupational determinants for various cancers, such as breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers. She is currently collaborating on studies concerning other cancers with colleagues at the NCI, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, evaluating various environmental risk factors as well as early markers of disease, utilizing the rich data/biospecimen resources of the Department of Defense. Dr. Rusiecki has carried out numerous studies evaluating the influence of environmental/occupational exposures on epigenetic mechanisms (e.g., DNA methylation). She carried out a landmark study of DNA methylation patterns associated with serum levels of persistent organic pollutants among Greenlandic Inuit (Rusiecki, et al EHP 2008).
Dr. Rusiecki has a keen interest in mindfulness and in mindfulness based stress reduction. She leads a weekly guided mindfulness meditation session at USU through the President’s Wellness Program.
Representative publications, projects, and/or deployments
Principal Investigator (PI) of a large cohort of Coast Guard oil spill responders, The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Coast Guard Cohort Study (2011 to present)
co-PI (multiple PI study) of a large thyroid cancer case-control study in the U.S. military, focusing risk from exposure to on poly-halogenated aromatic hyrdocarbons (PHAH). This study utilizes serum from the Department of Defense Serum Repository (DoDSR) to measure PHAH body burden in cases and controls (2012-present)
co-PI for numerous other collaborative serum-based, cancer epidemiology studies in the U.S. military, being carried out with colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. Topics include (1) “Serially measured pre-diagnostic levels of serum cytokines and risk of brain cancer in active component military personnel”; (2) Diagnostic and Etiologic Biomarkers of Esophageal Adenocarcinoma; (3) A nested case-control study of circulating per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals
Course director for "Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology" course; co-course director for "Epidemiologic Methods"
Chair, PMB Faculty Mentoring Committee; Member, PMB Promotion Review Committee; Member, PMB Diversity Committee; Member, Faculty Senate Research Policy Committee; Member, USU Vice President for Research (VPR) – Technological Research and Innovation (TRI) Informatics Working Group (IWG); Active contributor to President's Wellness Committee - organizes and leads weekly mindfulness meditation session
Member, National Response Team, Sub-committee on Worker Health
Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology
Member American Public Health Association
Member, Murtha Cancer Center
Recipient of USU Dean’s Impact Award (awarded September, 2018)
Race and overall survival in men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the Department of Defense Military Health System, 1990-2010. Alexander M, Zhu K, Cullen J, Byrne C, Brown D, Shao S, Rusiecki J. Cancer Causes Control. 2019 Apr 17. doi: 10.1007/s10552-019-01163-5
Environmental Heat Exposure and Heat-Related Symptoms in United States Coast Guard Deepwater Horizon Disaster Responders. Erickson EA, Engel LS, Christenbury K, Weems L, Schwartz EG, Rusiecki JA. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2018 Nov 6:1-9. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2018.120.
The deepwater horizon oil spill coast guard cohort study: A cross-sectional study of acute respiratory health symptoms. Alexander M, Engel LS, Olaiya N, Wang L, Barrett J, Weems L, Schwartz EG, Rusiecki JA. Environ Res. 2018 Apr;162:196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.11.044. Epub 2018 Jan 11.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Coast Guard Cohort study. Rusiecki J, Alexander M, Schwartz EG, Wang L, Weems L, Barrett J, Christenbury K, Johndrow D, Funk RH, Engel LS. Occup Environ Med. 2018 Mar;75(3):165-175. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104343. Epub 2017 Sep 12.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone, Thyroid Hormones, and Risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer: A Nested Case-Control Study. Huang H, Rusiecki J, Zhao N, Chen Y, Ma S, Yu H, Ward MH, Udelsman R, Zhang Y. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Aug;26(8):1209-1218. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0845. Epub 2017 Apr 4.
Pesticide use and LINE-1 methylation among male private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study. Alexander M, Koutros S, Bonner MR, Barry KH, Alavanja MCR, Andreotti G, Byun HM, Chen L, Beane Freeman LE, Hofmann JN, Kamel F, Moore LE, Baccarelli A, Rusiecki J.
High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study. Rusiecki JA, Beane Freeman LE, Bonner MR, Alexander M, Chen L, Andreotti G, Barry KH, Moore LE, Byun HM, Kamel F, Alavanja M, Hoppin JA, Baccarelli A. Environ Mol Mutagen. 2017 Jan;58(1):19-29. doi: 10.1002/em.22067. Epub 2016 Dec 20.
Serially measured pre-diagnostic levels of serum cytokines and risk of brain cancer in active component military personnel. Brenner AV, Inskip PD, Rusiecki J, Rabkin CS, Engels J, Pfeiffer RM. Br J Cancer. 2018 Oct;119(7):893-900. doi: 10.1038/s41416-018-0272-x. Epub 2018 Oct 9.
Disaster-related exposures and health effects among US Coast Guard responders to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: a cross-sectional study. Rusiecki JA, Thomas DL, Chen L, Funk R, McKibben J, Dayton MR. J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Aug;56(8):820-33. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000188.
Global DNA hypomethylation is associated with high serum-persistent organic pollutants in Greenlandic Inuit. Rusiecki JA, Baccarelli A, Bollati V, Tarantini L, Moore LE, Bonefeld-Jorgensen EC. Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Nov;116(11):1547-52. doi: 10.1289/ehp.11338. Epub 2008 Jul 16.