School of Public Health

Williams, Michelle

Michelle A. Williams

Affiliate Professor, Epidemiology

Co-Director of the Center for Perinatal Studies at Swedish Medical Center.
Director of the University's Multidisciplinary International Research Training (MIRT) Program
Director, Reproductive Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology(RPPE)Training Program


ScD Epidemiology, Harvard University, 1991
SM Demography, Harvard University, 1988
MS Civil Engineering, Tufts University, 1986
AB Genetics, Princeton University, 1984

Contact Info

Harvard University
Dept. of Epidemiology
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-432-6477

Michelle Williams was appointed Stephen B. Kay Family Professor of Public Health and Chair of Epidemiology, School of Public Health at Harvard University on August 1 2012

Previously a professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Washington School of Public Health, Williams has a longstanding relationship with the HSPH Department of Epidemiology, from which she received her doctorate in 1991. She has published more than 230 scientific articles and has received numerous research and teaching awards, including the American Public Health Association's Abraham Lilienfeld Award. In 2011, President Barack Obama presented Williams with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.


Brotman Award:

Lilienfield Award:

Research Interests

Dr. Williams's major research interests lie in the areas of women's reproductive health and child health. Her work focuses on integrating genomic sciences and epidemiological research methods to identify risk factors, diagnostic markers, treatments and prevention targets for disorders that contribute to maternal and infant mortality.

Her current activities include research and teaching collaborations with epidemiologists in Peru, Chile, Thailand, and Ethiopia.

Research Areas 


1: Byrd K, Gelaye B, Tadessea MG, Williams MA, Lemma S, Berhanec Y. Sleep Disturbances and Common Mental Disorders in College Students. Health Behav Policy Rev. 2014 May 1;1(3):229-237. PubMed PMID: 25309939.

 2: Chen X, Gelaye B, Velez JC, Pepper M, Gorman S, Barbosa C, Zafonte RD, Redline S, Williams MA. Attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of caregivers andrehabilitation providers about disabled children's sleep health: a qualitative study. BMC Pediatr. 2014 Oct 1;14(1):245. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-14-245. PubMed PMID: 25273034.

 3: Chen X, Velez JC, Barbosa C, Pepper M, Andrade A, Stoner L, De Vivo I, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Smoking and perceived stress in relation to short salivary telomere length among caregivers of children with disabilities. Stress. 2014 Sep 26:1-38. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25256607.

 4: Chen X, Redline S, Shields AE, Williams DR, Williams MA. Associations of allostatic load with sleep apnea, insomnia, short sleep duration, and other sleep disturbances: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005 to 2008. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Aug;24(8):612-9. doi:
10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.05.014. Epub 2014 Jun 6. PubMed PMID: 24985316; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4188508.

 5: Gelaye B, Tadesse MG, Williams MA, Fann JR, Vander Stoep A, Andrew Zhou XH. Assessing validity of a depression screening instrument in the absence of a gold standard. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Jul;24(7):527-31. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.04.009. Epub 2014 May 2. PubMed PMID: 24935465; PubMedCentral PMCID: PMC4104527.

 6: Gaillard R, Rurangirwa AA, Williams MA, Hofman A, Mackenbach JP, Franco OH, Steegers EA, Jaddoe VW. Maternal parity, fetal and childhood growth, and cardiometabolic risk factors. Hypertension. 2014 Aug;64(2):266-74. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03492. PubMed PMID: 24866145.

 7: Lagiou P, Samoli E, Hsieh CC, Lagiou A, Xu B, Yu GP, Onoyama S, Chie L, Adami HO, Vatten LJ, Trichopoulos D, Williams MA. Maternal and cord blood hormones in relation to birth size. Eur J Epidemiol. 2014 May;29(5):343-51. doi: 10.1007/s10654-014-9914-3. Epub 2014 May 22. PubMed PMID: 24848607.

 8: Thompson ML, Ananth CV, Jaddoe VW, Miller RS, Williams MA. The association of maternal adult weight trajectory with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2014 Jul;28(4):287-96. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12128. Epub 2014 May 19. PubMed PMID: 24842329; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4057307.

 9: Zhong Q, Gelaye B, Rondon M, Sánchez SE, García PJ, Sánchez E, Barrios YV, Simon GE, Henderson DC, Cripe SM, Williams MA. Comparative performance of Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for screening antepartum depression. J Affect Disord. 2014 Jun;162:1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.03.028. Epub 2014 Mar 26. PubMed PMID: 24766996; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4040145.

10: Roberts AL, Galea S, Austin SB, Corliss HL, Williams MA, Koenen KC. Women's experience of abuse in childhood and their children's smoking and overweight. Am  J Prev Med. 2014 Mar;46(3):249-58. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.11.012. PubMed PMID: 24512863; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3962663.

 11: Luque-Fernandez MA, Gelaye B, VanderWeele T, Ferre C, Siega-Riz AM, Holzman C, Enquobahrie DA, Dole N, Williams MA. Seasonal variation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D among non-Hispanic black and white pregnant women from three US pregnancy cohorts. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2014 Mar;28(2):166-76. doi:10.1111/ppe.12103. Epub 2013 Dec 20. PubMed PMID: 24354847; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC3946392.

 12: Wosu AC, Valdimarsdóttir U, Shields AE, Williams DR, Williams MA. Correlates of cortisol in human hair: implications for epidemiologic studies on health effects of chronic stress. Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Dec;23(12):797-811.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.09.006. Epub 2013 Oct 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 24184029; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3963409.

 13: Pensuksan WC, Chen X, Lohsoonthorn V, Lertmaharit S, Gelaye B, Williams MA. High risk for obstructive sleep apnea in relation to hypertension among southeast Asian young adults: role of obesity as an effect modifier. Am J Hypertens. 2014 Feb;27(2):229-36. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpt194. Epub 2013 Oct 16. PubMed PMID: 24132995; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3924039.

 14: Lagiou P, Hsieh CC, Samoli E, Lagiou A, Xu B, Yu GP, Onoyama S, Chie L, Vatten LJ, Adami HO, Trichopoulos D, Williams MA. Associations of placental weight with maternal and cord blood hormones. Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;23(11):669-73. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.08.003. Epub 2013 Oct 5. PubMed PMID: 24099689.

 15: Luque-Fernandez MA, Bain PA, Gelaye B, Redline S, Williams MA. Sleep-disordered breathing and gestational diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of 9,795 participants enrolled in epidemiological observational studies. DiabetesCare. 2013 Oct;36(10):3353-60. doi: 10.2337/dc13-0778. PubMed PMID: 24065843; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3781575.

 16: Workalemahu T, Enquobahrie DA, Moore A, Sanchez SE, Ananth CV, Pacora PN, Liang L, Salazar M, Williams MA. Genome-wide and candidate gene association studies of placental abruption. Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2013 Sep 12;4(3):128-39. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 24046805; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3773564.

 17: Frederick IO, Qiu C, Enquobahrie DA, Aurora SK, Peterlin BL, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Lifetime prevalence and correlates of migraine among women in a pacific northwest pregnancy cohort study. Headache. 2014 Apr;54(4):675-85. doi: 10.1111/head.12206. Epub 2013 Aug 28. PubMed PMID: 23992560; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3938576.

 18: Tobias DK, Chavarro JE, Williams MA, Buck Louis GM, Hu FB, Rich-Edwards J, Missmer SA, Zhang C. History of infertility and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective analysis of 40,773 pregnancies. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Oct 15;178(8):1219-25. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt110. Epub 2013 Aug 15. PubMed PMID: 23956097; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3792729.

 19: Gelaye B, Williams MA, Lemma S, Deyessa N, Bahretibeb Y, Shibre T, Wondimagegn D, Lemenhe A, Fann JR, Vander Stoep A, Andrew Zhou XH. Validity of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for depression screening and diagnosis in East Africa. Psychiatry Res. 2013 Dec 15;210(2):653-61. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.07.015. Epub 2013 Aug 22. PubMed PMID: 23972787; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3818385

 20: Williams MA, Sanchez SE, Ananth CV, Hevner K, Qiu C, Enquobahrie DA. Maternal blood mitochondrial DNA copy number and placental abruption risk: results from a preliminary study. Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2013 Jun 25;4(2):120-7. Print 2013. PubMed PMID: 23875065; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3709116

In The News

Girls With Migraines Pack on Extra Pounds
Fox News, 02/28/2011

The secret is there is no secret
Seattle Times, 01/27/2011

President Obama Bestows Excellence Award on Michelle Williams
Seattle Times, 01/22/2011