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Igor Burstyn, PhD

Igor Burstyn

Associate Professor
Environmental and Occupational Health
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BS, Microbiology, The University of British Columbia; MS, Occupational Hygiene, The University of British Columbia; PhD, Environmental and Occupational Health, Utrecht University


Igor Burstyn, PhD, is an accomplished educator and researcher in the field of environmental and occupational health, with training in both epidemiology and occupational hygiene. His research primarily focuses on the identification of sources and the health impacts of occupational and environmental exposures, with particular interest in the effect of environmental in utero exposures on health of pregnant women and their children. Dr. Burstyn's methodological expertise lies in the area of measurement error and hierarchical data. He collaborates extensively both nationally and internationally. Dr. Burstyn is ready to take part in tackling any occupational health problems that the public or his colleagues bring to his attention.

In addition to his position as an associate professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health, Dr. Burstyn also serves as an adjunct professor at the Department of Medicine and Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Prior to joining Drexel University, he served as an associate professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta.

Burstyn has published extensively in the areas of occupational hygiene and exposure assessment, as well as occupational and environmental epidemiology, and has presented his research at numerous conferences. He has also served as the primary investigator for several studies of the impacts of occupational and environmental exposures.

He has taught graduate courses in occupational hygiene and epidemiology. He has also served as an advisor for both master’s (MSc and MPH) and doctoral students, and successfully mentored a number of post-doctoral fellows.

Burstyn received his PhD in Environmental and Occupational Health from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, his Master of Science degree in Occupational Hygiene from the University of British Columbia, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of British Columbia. As a doctoral student, Dr Burstyn held Special Training Award from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

He is the primary instructor in PBHL647: "Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology," a core course for MPH students specializing in Occupational and Environmental Health. He also conducts directed reading courses on selected advanced topics that match student's individual needs; please contact Dr Burstyn directly if you are interested in such a course.

Research Interests

  • Cancer
  • Community Based Participatory Research
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Data Analysis Methods
  • Statistical Modeling
  • Environmental Exposures
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Mental Health and Behavioral Health
  • Neurodevelopment and Neurologic Disorders
  • Occupational Health
  • Asthma and COPD
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Risk Assessment
  • Epidemiology
  • Bayesian Statistics


Burstyn, IPeering through the mist: systematic review of what the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tells us about health risks. BMC Public Health. 2014, 14:18. January 9, 2014

Slutsky A, An Y, Hu T(X), Burstyn I: Automatic approaches to clustering occupational description data for prediction of probability of workplace exposure to beryllium. The 2011 IEEE International Conference on Granular Computing (GrC-2011), Kaohsiung,Taiwan, November 21-23, 2011, paper No.: G217 (

de Vocht F, Burstyn I, Cherrie JW: Time trends (1998-2007) in brain cancer incidence rates in relation to mobile phone use in England. Bioelectromagnetics 32(5):334-9 (2011) 

Burstyn I, Wang X, Yasui Y, Sithole F, Zwaigenbaum L: Autism spectrum disorders and fetal hypoxia in a population-based cohort: Accounting for missing exposures via Estimation-Maximization algorithm. BMC Medical Research Methodology 11:2 (2011) ( 

Gustafson P, Burstyn I: Bayesian inference of gene-environment interaction from incomplete data: What happens when information on environment is disjoint from data on gene and disease? Statistics in Medicine 30(8):877-89 (2011)

Chan E, Burstyn I, Bamforth F, Cherry NM, Martin JW:Perfluorinated acids and hypothyroxinemia in pregnant women. Environmental Research 111:559–64(2011) 

Burstyn I: Impact of measurement error on quantifying the importance of proximity to point sources of air pollution. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 20:12-8 (2010).

Liu J, Gustafson P, Cherry NM, Burstyn I: Bayesian analysis of a matched case-control study with expert prior information on both the misclassication of exposure and the exposure-disease association. Statistics in Medicine 28(27):3411–23 (2009).

Burstyn I, Kapur N, Shalapay C, Bamforth F, Wild TC, Liu J, LeGatt D: Evaluation of the accuracy of self-reported smoking in pregnancy when biomarker level in an active smoker is uncertain. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 11(6):670-8 (2009).

Burstyn I, Kim HM, Yasui Y, Cherry NM: The virtues of a deliberately misspecified disease model in demonstrating a gene-environment interaction. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 66(6):374-80 (2009).

Burstyn I, Kromhout H, Partanen T, Svane O, Langård S, Ahrens W, Kauppinen T, Stücker I, Shaham J, Heederik D, Ferro G, Heikkilä P, Hooiveld M, Johansen C, Randem BG, Boffetta P: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fatal ischemic heart disease. Epidemiology 16(6):744-50 (2005).

Burstyn I, Boffetta P, Järvholm B, Partanen T, Svane O, Langård S, Ahrens W, Kauppinen T, Stücker I, Shaham J, Heederik D, Ferro G, Kromhout H: Risk of fatal industrial accidents and death from other external causes among asphalt workers. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 61(1): 86-88 (2004).

Burstyn I, Boffetta P, Heederik D, Partanen T, Kromhout H, Svane O, Langård S, Frentzel-Beyme R, Kauppinen T, Stücker I, Shaham J, Ahrens W, Cenée S, Ferro G, Heikkilä P, Hooiveld M, Johansen C, Randem BG, Schill W: Mortality from obstructive lung diseases and exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons among asphalt workers. American Journal of Epidemiology 158(5): 468-478 (2003).

Burstyn I, Boffetta P, Kauppinen T, Heikkilä P, Svane O, Partanen T, Stücker I, Frentzel-Beyme R, Ahrens W, Merzenich H, Heederik D, Hooiveld M, Langård S, Randem BG, Järvholm B, Bergdahl I, Shaham J, Ribak J, Kromhout H: Estimating exposures in asphalt industry for an international epidemiological cohort study of cancer risk. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 43(1): 3-17 (2003).

Burstyn I, Kromhout H: Trends in inhalation exposure to hydrocarbons among commercial painters in the Netherlands. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 28(6): 429-438 (2002).

Burstyn I and Teschke K: Studying the determinants of exposure: A review of methods. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 60:57-72 (1999).