Dr. Melissa Perry is a leading public health researcher whose wide-ranging epidemiologic and preventive intervention studies over the past two decades have investigated factors in occupational injury and disease and the influence of chemical and physical agents on reproduction.
Dr. Perry’s research has drawn international attention to the health effects of pesticide exposure. Current projects include investigating how climate change is impacting the properties of pesticides and other chemicals.
In addition to shedding light on how people are exposed to pesticides, Dr. Perry's work probes the mutagenic and hormonal effects of these exposures on farming communities, agricultural workers, and the general public.
After identifying risks to workers at meat-packing plants, construction sites, and agricultural operations, Dr. Perry has developed engineering and behavioral interventions to address these risks.
Dr. Perry’s laboratory at the Milken Institute School of Public Health focuses on reproductive epidemiology and hormone disruptors, and her group has developed new techniques for high-volume identification of chromosomal abnormalities in sperm cells. Her research group was the first to use semi-automated imaging methods to show how pesticides can impact sperm abnormalities.
In the classroom, Dr. Perry helps students recognize the connections between climate change and health.
Before coming to George Washington University in 2010, Dr. Perry spent 13 years on the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health faculty. She has received numerous research awards, including grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Dr. Perry is the Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a co-chair of the National Academies Standing Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. She is a past President of the American College of Epidemiology and serves as a standing member of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health research grant review panel. She is an associate editor for two journals, Environmental Health Perspectives and Reproductive Toxicology. In 2014, Dr. Perry was elected to be a member of the Collegium Ramazzini in recognition of her contributions to advancing occupational and environmental health and her personal and professional integrity. She is also a member of the Technical Advisory Board for the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). Dr. Perry is currently collaborating on occupational and environmental health projects in Albania, Italy and South Africa.
Dr. Perry credits her experience of growing up in a Vermont farm community with inspiring her focus on under-protected workers. She earned her Master of Health Science and Doctor of Science from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. In addition to over 100 peer-reviewed articles, she is the author of many commentaries, book chapters, and abstracts. The 45 students who Dr. Perry has mentored include researchers who have gone on to become professors, government program directors, and leaders of major industry research initiatives.
Read more about Dr. Perry's work in the following stories:
Professor Melissa Perry Appointed to CDC Board of Scientific Counselors
Farmer Informer (Vermont Quarterly profile)
Professor Melissa Perry Elected President of American College of Epidemiology
Professor Perry Elected to Collegium Ramazzini
A Field Trip to the Lab
Melissa Perry and Colleagues Identify that Environmental Exposure to Organochlorines May Impact Male Reproduction