Our Scientists

A few of the esteemed members of our team of scientists. Clockwise from top left: Phil Landrigan, Charles Benbrook, Fiorella Belpoggi, Melissa Perry, Bruce Lanphear, and Paul Winchester.

An overview of key members of the Heartland Study team appears directly below, followed by sections providing more details on the current affiliation of science team members.

See Project Papers and Presentations for a list of select publications from our science team and Heartland Study collaborating research institutions.

Principal Investigators

  • Melissa Perry, George Washington University
  • Paul Winchester, Franciscan Health Indianapolis

Science Advisory Board 

  • Fiorella Belpoggi, Ramazzini Institute
  • Charles Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting Services
  • John Brock, University of North Carolina
  • Michael Hansen, Consumers Union
  • Richard Jackson, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Phil Landrigan, Boston College
  • Bruce Lanphear, Simon Fraser University
  • Michelle Perro, Gordon Medical Associates and GMO Science

Collaborating Hospitals

  • Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Gunderson Medical Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Research Collaborators

  • Michael Antoniou and Robin Mesnage, King’s College, London
  • Fiorella Belpoggi and Daniele Mandrioli, Ramazzini Institute, Italy
  • Asa Bradman, UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension, California
  • Antonia Calafat, Centers For Disease Control, Georgia
  • John Fagan, Health Research Institute, Iowa
  • Jill Reiter, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana

Our Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs)

Melissa Perry

Co-PI Melissa Perry is a research professor and Interim Associate Dean for Research with the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University. She received a PhD in Psychiatric Epidemiology and MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her BA is from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining the staff at George Washington University, she spent over a decade at the Harvard School of Public Health, and is a past President of the American College of Epidemiology. She has conducted a wide variety of epidemiological studies on occupational injury and disease, and the impacts of chemical and physical exposures to reproductive health, including pesticide exposure. For more, see Dr. Perry’s faculty page at George Washington University, and the selection of publications in our bibliography.

Paul Winchester

Co-PI Paul Winchester is the Medical Director of the Neonatal Infant Care Unit (NICU) at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, and serves as a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. He holds a BA from Stanford University, an MA from the University of Michigan, and an M.D. from the University of Colorado Medical Center. Along with serving an important medical role at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Dr. Winchester conducts clinical research on the epidemiology of birth defects and developmental problems, including the effects of prenatal exposure to pesticides. For more, see Dr. Winchester’s staff profile at Riley Children’s Hospital, or view his work in our bibliography here.

Science Advisory Board Members

Co-Principal Investigators Melissa Perry and Paul Winchester also serve on the Heartland Study Science Advisory Board (SAB) along with the following members. The SAB is chaired by Dr. Phil Landrigan.  Note that selected publications for all SAB members can be found here.

Fiorella Belpoggi

Fiorella Belpoggi is the Head of Research at the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy.  The Institute is a research and medical cooperative dedicated to fighting cancer, with a particular focus on the role of toxic environmental chemicals.  She has worked at the Insititute’s Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Centre since 1981, and now serves as the Director.  Her research focus has been on short and long term toxicity studies on a wide arrange of chemicals, including pesticides.  Dr. Belpoggi holds a BS and a PhD from the from the University of Bologna, Italy and has also served as an expert consultant to several regulatory bodies including the European Parliament and the European Food Safety Authority.  See her page at the Collegium Ramazzini here.

Charles Benbrook

Charles Benbrook serves on the SAB and as the Heartland Study Project Coordinator. He has a PhD and MA in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He currently is a Visiting Professor at Newcastle University in the UK and runs Benbrook Consulting Services. Previously he served as a Research Professor at Washington State University, Chief Scientist of The Organic Center, Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture in the National Academy of Sciences, and as staff director of the Subcommittee on Department [USDA] Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture of the House Committee on Agriculture. He has served as an expert witness in litigation involving pesticide use, regulation, and risks, including ongoing litigation over Roundup (glyphosate) exposures and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.   Access Dr. Benbrook’s resume, peer reviewed papers, and Congressional testimony on his website, Hygeia Analytics.

John Brock

An Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, Dr. John Brock is a research scientist specializing in environmental exposures. He holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry and Neuroscience from Emory University, and spent almost a decade as a senior research scientist with the CDC, where he focused on cancer risks.  His current research is on the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on pregnancy and development.  See his staff page at UNC here.

Michael Hansen

Michael Hansen has been a member of Consumers Union science team for more than 20 years, working on food safety issues. He has a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan, and an undergraduate from Northwestern University. Additionally, Dr. Hansen conducted post-graduate research at the University of Kentucky and field research in Mexico on agricultural biotech and pest management. He works to develop policy, communicate with the public and the media, and testify before government agencies about food safety and environmental health, including pesticide use. For more, see Dr. Hansen’s staff page at Consumers Union.

Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson is a Professor at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a pediatrician who has applied his expertise in environmental health and infectious disease towards public policy, serving a year as the California State Health Officer and almost a decade at the CDC as the Director of the National Center for Environmental Health. He received his MD from the University of California, San Francisco and his MPH in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. In recognition of his work, Professor Jackson received the Presidential Distinguished Service award and was elected in 2011 to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has played an important role in efforts in California to draft laws to reduce risks from pesticides to farmworkers and children, and worked at the CDC to measure American’s chemical levels through biomonitoring. For more, see Dr. Jackson’s faculty page.

Phil Landrigan

Philip Landrigan, Science Advisory Board Chair, serves at Boston College as both the founding Director of the Program in Global Public Health and the Common Good, and the Director of the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health. He is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a M.S. in Occupational Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Office at the CDC and directed the national program in occupational epidemiology at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In recognition of his career, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal from the US Public Health Service, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1987. Over several decades, Dr. Landrigan’s work has focused on the impact of environmental threats, including pesticides, on children’s health. Click here to view his faculty page at Boston College.

Bruce Lanphear

Bruce Lanphear is a public health physician and pediatric epidemiologist that specializes in environmental exposures including lead and other toxic chemicals. Dr. Lanphear has an M.D. from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and an M.P.H. from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He currently serves as a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and a Clinician Scientist at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute with the University of British Columbia. Dr. Lanphear’s work focuses on the impacts of fetal and early childhood exposure to environmental toxic chemicals, including pesticides. Dr. Lanphear is leading an effort to produce videos to enhance public understanding of how our health is inextricably linked with the environment and to elevate efforts to prevent disease. For more, see his Simon Fraser University staff page.

Michelle Perro

Michelle Perro, MD, DHOM is a veteran pediatrician with nearly four decades of experience in acute and integrative medicine. More than fifteen years ago, Dr. Perro transformed her clinical practice to include pesticide and health advocacy. She has both directed and worked as attending physician from New York’s Metropolitan Hospital to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Dr. Perro has managed her own business, Down to Earth Pediatrics, creating a new field of integrative urgent care medicine. She is currently lecturing and consulting as well as working with Gordon Medical Associates, an integrative health center in Northern California. Dr. Perro has co-authored the highly acclaimed book, “What’s Making our Children Sick” and is Executive Director of a non-profit scientific-based website, GMO Science. She has been a sought-after speaker nationally and internationally including Cape Town, Melbourne and Beijing. See more on Michelle here.

Collaborating Hospitals

Franciscan Health Indianapolis


Francsican Health is a full service hospital serving central Indiana. Our project Co-PI Paul Winchester heads the NICU here, and the hospital will begin enrolling mother-infant pairs in the Heartland Study the summer of 2019. See more here.

Gunderson Medical Center

Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI is the flagship hospital of the Gundersen Health System.   Located on the Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa border, this hospital will serve rural families from throughout the tri-state region.  See more info here.

Medical & Research Partners


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