Megan K Horton, PhD
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Environmental Medicine & Public Health
Dr. Horton earned her doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University in 2009. During her doctoral training, she gained expertise in the development and use of biological markers to measure prenatal and early life exposures to environmental toxicants, focusing mainly on residential exposure to pesticides. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sergievsky Center for the Epidemiologic Study of Neurologic Diseases. The focus of this postdoc was to explore the use of brain imaging (i.e., magnetic resonance imaging – MRI) to investigate the impact of prenatal exposure to pesticides and secondhand smoke on neuropsychological and behavioral function throughout childhood. Dr. Horton was awarded an NIH career transition award and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of The Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research at Mount Sinai combines state-of-the-art environmental exposure assessment with structural and functional neuroimaging and behavioral phenotyping to understand how early life exposure to developmental neurotoxicants impacts typical brain development and leads to aberrant cognitive and behavioral outcomes in children. Recently, her research extends to investigate how environmental, social and occupational stressors impact later life health outcomes including PTSD and cognitive impairment.
Dr. Horton’s research is currently funded from grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the New York/New Jersey Educational Research Center (NY/NJERC) and the Honest Company. Dr. Horton’s research is highly collaborative and involves several on goingstudies that are based in New York City, Italy, Mexico.
Interests: Children’s environmental health; prenatal and early life exposure to developmental neurotoxicants; critical windows of brain development; environmental and social stressors and cognitive impairment; environmental exposure assessment; biological markers; magnetic resonance imaging
BA, Loyola University Chicago
MA, University of Nebraska at Omaha
MPH, Columbia University
PhD, Columbia Univeristy
Prenatal exposure to a mixture of endocrine disrupting compounds and child neurodevelopment
Cumulative lead exposure and risk for drug addiction
- This case-control pilot study is an ongoing investigation exploring how lifetime exposure to lead (Pb) impacts the risk for cocaine use. Embedded within the parent NARC study, a subset of CUD cases and controls participated in substudy using x-ray fluorescence to measure cumulative life exposure to lead in bones.
Early life manganese exposure and the adolescent brain.
- The Public Health Impact of Manganese Exposure (PHIME) study consists of a well-characterized cohort of adolescents from three communities in Northern Italy that differ in the timing and intensity of environmental Mn exposure from current or historic ferromanganese alloy plant operations. Current research initiatives use biological and environmental monitoring to assess longitudinal exposure to manganese (and other metals) and examine associations with brain structure and function and adolescent health outcomes.
In a sister study to PROGRESS, the Programming of Intergenerational Stress Mechanisms (PRISM) study enrolls pregnant mothers in Boston and New York city and focuses on examining associations between maternal and lifetime psychosocial stress, environmental toxicant exposures and children’s health. Dr. Horton’s lab was recently funded to initiate a pilot study to collect structural and function MRI on 4 year old subjects. The aim of the pilot study is to examine associations between early life environmental exposures such as maternal stress and neuroimaging phenotypes.
Neuroimaging in PROGRESS
- The Programming Research in Obesity, Growth, Environment and Social Stressors Study (PROGRESS) is collaboration between Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of Michigan and the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico City. The study consists of mother-dyad pairs enrolled during pregnancy and followed through early adolescence. PROGRESS uses state of the art methods in social science, exposure science, epidemiology and toxicology to assess trans disciplinary risk factors impacting neurodevelopment. Dr. Horton recently completed a pilot study to collect structural and functional MRI data from 20 PROGRESS subjects at the Center for Medical Imaging and Instrumentation (Ci3M). Ongoing work examines associations between early life exposures, structural and functional neuroimaging phenotypes and child behavior, emotional regulation, and cognition.
Health effects of welding fume exposure
- This ongoing pilot study is currently enrolling active welders from the New York City area (i.e., ironworkers, steelworkers, dockbuilders, etc) and uses PET/MRI to examine associations between welding fume exposure and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular health.