Carrie Breton, ScD

Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences


Health Equity Interests

I am interested in understanding how prenatal environmental exposures & stressors affect epigenetic pathways and maternal and child health outcomes


As an environmental epidemiologist, I lead an interdisciplinary program of research focused on understanding the long-term health risks for cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic diseases resulting from the interplay between prenatal or early-life environmental exposures and psychosocial  stressors. The overarching goals of my research program are to: (1) determine the health effects of early-life exposures to air pollutants, metals and chemicals, (2) identify factors that make certain individuals more susceptible to environmental exposures or health effects; and (3) understand the role for epigenetic mechanisms in mediating observed environmental health effects.

I direct the Maternal And Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center for Environmental Health Disparities as well as the USC site for the Environmental Influences of Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, both of which are housed in the Environmental Health Division in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences. I am also the Director of the Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) for the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center. My work in the MADRES Center examines whether pre- and postpartum environmental exposures to air pollutants and heavy metals, coupled with exposures to psychosocial and built environment stressors, affect maternal and child cardiometabolic health outcomes, including perturbed infant growth trajectories and increased childhood obesity risk. My work in ECHO takes a multigenerational life course approach to studying the contribution of the environment to the developmental origins of childhood and emerging adult respiratory and metabolic health.  I have  conducted several studies investigating how environmental exposures, such as air pollution and tobacco smoke, alter epigenetic profiles in newborns and young children, and what roles those changes play in underlying disease risk. I am also actively investigating intergenerational effects of environmental exposures on epigenetic mechanisms including DNA methylation and extracellular vesicle miRNA.

Research Interests

  • Population Characteristics
  • Disparities
  • Racial Disparities
  • Ethnic Disparities
  • Built Environment
  • Immigrant Health
  • Neighborhoods
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Morbidity
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Maternal Health
  • Obesity
  • Climate Change
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Air Pollution
  • Exposure Assessment Methods
  • personal
  • environmental
  • Environmental Justice
  • Human Health Impacts
  • respiratory
  • cardiovascular
  • metabolic
  • Environmental Omics
  • pregnancy
  • infancy

Courses Taught

  • Environmental and Genetic/Epigenetic Epidemiology
  • Environmental Health: An Epidemiological Approach
  • Environmental and Genetic/Epigenetic Epidemiology