Roberta F. White, PhD
Emeritus Professor
Boston University School of Public Health
Environmental Health

PhD, Wayne State University
MA, Wayne State University
BA, Michigan State University

Roberta F. White is a trans-disciplinary scientist whose research focuses on the effects of exposure to industrial pollutants on brain function. Initially trained as a clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist, her work employs cognitive and behavioral test measures and neuroimaging techniques to identify pollutant effects on the central nervous system. Combining the fields of public health, behavioral neuroscience, and epidemiology as well as clinical neuropsychology, she has explored the effects of occupational lead and solvent exposures on cognitive and affective expressions of brain function; elucidated prenatal effects of exposure to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls on cognitive function and neuropsychological outcomes; identified chemical exposures that are associated with the occurrence of Gulf War Illness (GWI) following the Gulf War in 1991, and uncovered cognitive and neuroimaging evidence of structural brain damage associated with GWI and sarin exposure in the GW veteran population. Her work has had significant public health impact in setting standards for occupational exposure to lead, environmental exposure to methylmercury in utero, and acceptance of GWI as a physical illness related to chemical exposures in theatre. She has written extensively on the clinical correlates of encephalopathies caused by exposure to chemical pollutants and co-wrote the World Health Organization criteria for diagnosis of solvent encephalopathy that are used internationally.

Dr. White’s research and clinical career have led to leadership positions in the field of public health and psychology. She was Chair of the Department of Environmental Health 2003-2017 and was Associate Dean for Research at Boston University School of Public Health from 2008-2015. In addition, she was Scientific Director of the Congressionally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness from 2008-2015, which advises the Veterans Administration on its GWI research portfolio. She has testified before Congress and the National Academy of Medicine many times in her areas of research expertise, particularly GWI. Prior to beginning her tenure as Chair of Environmental Health, she ran the neuropsychology programs at BUSM and VA Boston Medical Center, overseeing clinical work as well as APA-approved doctoral and post-doctoral training programs in clinical neuropsychology. She also directed a VA-funded center on Environmental Hazards through two funding cycles before leaving the VA to work fulltime at BUSPH.

Emeritus Professor
Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine

Early Life Exposure to Metal Mixtures and Internalizing Behaviors in Childhood
09/30/2018 - 08/31/2023 (Subcontract PI)
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai NIH NIEHS

Public Health Support Services for ATSDR Public Health Assessment Activities
06/26/2019 - 06/25/2021 (Subcontract PI)
Abt Associates Inc. HHS CDC

Roberta White: Organizing Committee member and Scientific Expert
01/01/2019 - 06/30/2019 (PI)
President and Fellows of Harvard College dba Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Prenatal Exposure to Polyfluoralkyl Chemicals (PFCs) and Child Growth Development
06/11/2015 - 05/31/2017 (Subcontract PI)
The Regents of the University of California (University of California, Berkeley) NIH NIEHS

Personnel Agreement for Research Services of Peter Rivoira
10/09/2012 - 09/29/2016 (PI)
Department of Defense/U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine

Personnel Agreement for Research Services of Megan Yee
10/21/2013 - 04/29/2016 (PI of Sub-Project / SP)
PI: Margaret A. Naeser, PhD
VA Boston Healthcare System

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses at Boston University
04/01/2011 - 09/30/2015 (PI)
Department of Veterans Administration, Bedford

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses at Boston University
04/01/2011 - 09/30/2015 (PI)
Department of Veterans Administration, Bedford

Personnel Agreement for Research Services of Megan Yee
10/01/2013 - 08/31/2015 (PI)
VA Boston Healthcare System

ANAM4 manuscript preperation
01/01/2013 - 06/30/2013 (Subcontract PI)
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation For The Advancement Of Military Medicine, Inc. DOD Army Med Resrch

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Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Schildroth S, Kordas K, White RF, Friedman A, Placidi D, Smith D, Lucchini RG, Wright RO, Horton M, Claus Henn B. An Industry-Relevant Metal Mixture, Iron Status, and Reported Attention-Related Behaviors in Italian Adolescents. Environ Health Perspect. 2024 Feb; 132(2):27008.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38363634; PMCID: PMC10871126; DOI: 10.1289/EHP12988;
  2. Friedman A, Schildroth S, Bauer JA, Coull BA, Smith DR, Placidi D, Cagna G, Krengel MH, Tripodis Y, White RF, Lucchini RG, Wright RO, Horton M, Austin C, Arora M, Claus Henn B. Early-life manganese exposure during multiple developmental periods and adolescent verbal learning and memory. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2023; 100:107307.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37832858; PMCID: PMC10834060; DOI: 10.1016/;
  3. Schildroth S, Valeri L, Kordas K, Shi B, Friedman A, Smith D, Placidi D, Wright RO, Lucchini RG, White RF, Horton M, Claus Henn B. Assessing the mediating role of iron status on associations between an industry-relevant metal mixture and verbal learning and memory in Italian adolescents. Sci Total Environ. 2024 Jan 01; 906:167435.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37774885; PMCID: PMC10918745; DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.167435;
  4. Schildroth S, Friedman A, White RF, Kordas K, Placidi D, Bauer JA, Webster TF, Coull BA, Cagna G, Wright RO, Smith D, Lucchini RG, Horton M, Claus Henn B. Associations of an industry-relevant metal mixture with verbal learning and memory in Italian adolescents: The modifying role of iron status. Environ Res. 2023 May 01; 224:115457.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36773645; PMCID: PMC10117691; DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.115457;
  5. Nielsen GH, Heiger-Bernays WJ, Levy JI, White RF, Axelrad DA, Lam J, Chartres N, Abrahamsson DP, Rayasam SDG, Shaffer RM, Zeise L, Woodruff TJ, Ginsberg GL. Application of probabilistic methods to address variability and uncertainty in estimating risks for non-cancer health effects. Environ Health. 2023 Jan 12; 21(Suppl 1):129.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36635712; PMCID: PMC9835218; DOI: 10.1186/s12940-022-00918-z;
  6. Leibler JH, Abdelgadir A, Seidel J, White RF, Johnson WE, Reynolds SJ, Gray GC, Schaeffer JW. Influenza D virus exposure among US cattle workers: A call for surveillance. Zoonoses Public Health. 2023 Mar; 70(2):166-170.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36370131; PMCID: PMC10099784; DOI: 10.1111/zph.13008;
  7. Friedman A, Bauer JA, Austin C, Downs TJ, Tripodis Y, Heiger-Bernays W, White RF, Arora M, Claus Henn B. Multiple metals in children's deciduous teeth: results from a community-initiated pilot study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2022 May; 32(3):408-417.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34750512; PMCID: PMC9079191; DOI: 10.1038/s41370-021-00400-x;
  8. Bauer JA, White RF, Coull BA, Austin C, Oppini M, Zoni S, Fedrighi C, Cagna G, Placidi D, Guazzetti S, Yang Q, Bellinger DC, Webster TF, Wright RO, Smith D, Horton M, Lucchini RG, Arora M, Claus Henn B. Critical windows of susceptibility in the association between manganese and neurocognition in Italian adolescents living near ferro-manganese industry. Neurotoxicology. 2021 12; 87:51-61.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34478771; PMCID: PMC8595706; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2021.08.014;
  9. Fruh V, Rifas-Shiman SL, Coull BA, Devick KL, Amarasiriwardena C, Cardenas A, Bellinger DC, Wise LA, White RF, Wright RO, Oken E, Claus Henn B. Prenatal exposure to a mixture of elements and neurobehavioral outcomes in mid-childhood: Results from Project Viva. Environ Res. 2021 10; 201:111540.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34166661; PMCID: PMC8502495; DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111540;
  10. Bauer JA, Fruh V, Howe CG, White RF, Henn BC. Associations of metals and neurodevelopment: a review of recent evidence on susceptibility factors. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2020 Dec; 7(4):237-262.View Related Profiles. PMID: 33777647; PMCID: PMC7993302; DOI: 10.1007/s40471-020-00249-y;
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This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 273 publications over 43 distinct years, with a maximum of 20 publications in 1997


2010 Environmental Health Perspectives: Top Reviewer
2010 Neurotoxicology: Top 25 Reviewers
2006 Fellow, American Psychological Association, Division 12
1998 Collegium Ramazzini: Fellow
1993 Fellow, American Psychological Association, Division 40
1985-1988 Career Development Award. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
1975-1976 Administration on Aging. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Doctoral Fellowship
1972-1973 Wayne State University Graduate Division Tuition Scholarship
1971-1972 Public Health Service Fellowship
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