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Kristen Lyall, ScD

Associate Professor

Kristen Lyall

Phone: (215) 571-3215

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Dr. Lyall is an Associate Professor in the Modifiable Risk Factors Program of the Institute. Her work focuses on examining environmental factors during critical time frames of neurodevelopment in association with autism, in order to learn more about the condition’s complex etiology. She is interested in determining how these factors may act through hormonal, immune, and other pathways to influence risk. Current and planned projects are aimed at examining the role of maternal prenatal dietary factors, including measured levels of maternal polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy, as well as intake of other nutrients, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and assessing maternal health factors in autism, as well as the use of biomarkers to assess pathways. An additional area of interest is in understanding how environmental factors interact with each other and genetic background to influence risk.

As an epidemiologist with training in psychiatric, reproductive, and nutritional epidemiology, Dr. Lyall has examined a range of risk factors for autism. Her past work includes helping to initiate a follow-up study of autism in a large U.S. cohort, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and conducting analyses of maternal reproductive and dietary risk factors for autism within those data. She has also been involved with studies of exposure to air pollution, maternal prenatal hormone and protein markers, gestational diabetes, infertility and infertility treatments, maternal autoimmune disorders and other medical conditions, in association with risk of autism and developmental delay.

Dr. Lyall received her doctorate in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, and did her postdoctoral training at the UC Davis MIND Institute. Following postdoctoral work, she also worked as a Research Scientist in the California Department of Public Health, in the Environmental Health Investigations Branch.