Antonio J. Signes-Pastor, Ph.D.
Department of Epidemiology
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
One Medical Center Drive
7927 Rubin Building Lebanon, NH 03756
Areas of Expertise: Epidemiology, food security, and trace elements analysis
Background: I have been a research associate at the Department of Epidemiology - Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth since October 2016 focused on environmental epidemiology studies. Before that, I was a postdoc at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, responsible for the Marie Curie Actions funded project RICENIC, that aimed to carry out risk assessment of arsenic in rice-based infant's products and strategies to reduce exposure. My Ph.D project aimed to assess arsenic exposure from water and food in populations living in rural areas of West Bengal, India, where drinking water is naturally highly contaminated with arsenic.
Research: Early-life exposure to environmental toxicants, particularly inorganic arsenic - a well-known toxic element, and their potential adverse health impact on infants and young children, are the core of my current research interests. I am involved with the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS) that aims to investigate how various factors such as contaminants in the environment affect the health of pregnant women and their children. In addition, I am also collaborating with other mother-child cohort studies in Europe. We have found a strong association between rice and rice-based product consumption and infants and young children's urinary arsenic, a reliable biomarker of all exposure routes. Rice-based products are widely used during weaning to solid food; however, rice accumulates higher concentrations of arsenic compared to other cereals. Our research contributes to the growing number of epidemiology studies suggesting that early-life arsenic exposure even at relatively low levels from food intake may have an adverse impact on health. I am committed to supporting, with high quality research, the reduction of exposure to toxic elements such as inorganic arsenic during critical developmental windows early in life in order to protect the most vulnerable subpopulations' health.