Rebecca J. Schmidt is a professor and molecular epidemiologist in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, completed her postdoctoral training as part of the MIND Institute’s Autism Research Training Program and was a Building Interdisciplinary Research Career in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) scholar.
Schmidt aims to advance understanding of how early life environmental exposures interact with genetic susceptibility, molecular mechanisms and developmental programming to influence neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. Her pioneering work includes finding some of the first evidence in the autism field for a potentially protective effect of folic acid-rich prenatal vitamins, evidence for gene-environment (G x E) interactions and protective interactions between folate and environmental contaminants.
Schmidt co-developed the Early Life Exposures Assessment Tool (ELEAT). In addition to leading the Markers of Autism Risks in Babies: Learning Early Signs (MARBLES) study, a high-risk autism sibling pregnancy cohort study and biorepository, she leads the Bio-Specimen and Fire Effects (B-SAFE) study, a cohort study on wildfire and pregnancy, and she is site-lead for follow-up of children at older ages in the national Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) cohort study. She also co-leads several mechanistic autism studies, including epidemiologic examinations of mitochondrial, epigenomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic variations in relation to neurodevelopmental outcomes.