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Karin B. Michels



DepartmentsType of Faculty
EpidemiologyFull Time
Contact Information

71-279B CHS
Campus 177220
Los Angeles, California 90095

Areas of Interest: 
  1. Epigenetic epidemiology
  2. Perinatal risk factors for chronic disease (DOHaD)
  3. Breast cancer epidemiology
  4. Nutritional epidemiology and methodology
  5. Epidemiologic methods

Dr. Michels has expertise in epidemiologic methods, and epigenetic, nutritional, and cancer epidemiology. Her research focuses on women's health. 

Dr. Michels is one of the co-founders of the area of epigenetic epidemiology and has made seminal contributions to the methods used in this field. Her research addresses the role of epigenetics in the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). The Michels' lab studies the impact of events during perinatal life on the establishment of the epigenome.

In the context of DOHaD, Dr. Michels' research also explores the importance of the pre-pubertal and pubertal phases for breast cancer etiology. Dr. Michels leads one of the coveted BCERP (Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program) Centers as part of an NIH initiative to study the role of environmental toxins of breast cancer risk across the lifespan.

Dr. Michels also has a long-standing interest in the role of nutrition in maintaining health. She has made numerous methodologic contributions to the field of nutritional epidemiology and has explored the importance of a healthy diet to cancer prevention throughout the lifecourse.

PhD, Biostatistics; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
MS, Medical Statistics; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
ScD, Epidemiology; Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
MPH; Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
MS, Epidemiology; Columbia University School of Public Health; New York, NY
BS Equivalent; University of Freiburg Medical School, Freiburg, Germany
Selected Publications: 
  1. Binder AM, Michels KB. The causal effect of red blood cell folate on genome-wide methylation in cord blood: a Mendelian randomization approach. BMC Bioinformatics 2013;14:353.
  2. Michels KB, Binder AM, Dedeurwaerder S, Epstein CB, Greally JM, Gut I, Houseman EA, Izzi B, Kelsey KT, Meissner A, Milosavljevic A, Siegmund KD, Bock C, Irizarry RA. Recommendations for the design and analysis of epigenome-wide association studies. Nature Methods 2013;10:949-955.
  3. Rancourt RC, Harris HR, Barault LB, Michels KB. The prevalence of loss of imprinting of H19 and IGF2 at birth. FASEB 2013;27:3335-3343.
  4. Carwile JL, Ye X, Zhou X, Calafat AM, Michels KB. Canned soup consumption and urinary bisphenol A: a randomized crossover trial. JAMA 2011;306:2218-20.
  5. Carwile JL, Luu HT, Bassett LS, Driscoll DA, Yuan C, Chang JY, Ye X, Calafat AM, Michels KB. Polycarbonate bottle use and urinary bisphenol A concentrations. Environ Health Perspect 2009;117:1368-72.
  6. Michels KB, Willett WC. Self-administered semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires: Patterns, predictors, and interpretation of omitted items. Epidemiology 2009;20:295-301
  7. Xue F, Michels KB. Intrauterine factors and risk of breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of current evidence. Lancet Oncol 2007;8:1088-1100.
  8. Michels KB, Terry KL, Willett WC. Longitudinal study on the role of body size in premenopausal breast cancer. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:2395-2402.
  9. Michels KB, Bingham SA, Luben R, Welch AA, Day NE. The effect of correlated measurement error in multivariate models of diet. Am J Epidemiol 2004;161:59-67.
  10. Michels KB, Ekbom A. Caloric restriction and incidence of breast cancer. JAMA 2004;291:1226-30.
  11. Greenland S, Michels KB, Robins JM, Poole C, Willett WC. Presenting statistical uncertainty in trends and dose-response relations. Am J Epidemiol 1999;149:1077-1086.
  12. Michels KB, Greenland S, Rosner BA. Does body mass index adequately capture the relation of body composition and body size to health outcomes? Am J Epidemiol 1998;47:167-172.
  13. Michels KB, Trichopoulos D, Robins JM, Rosner BA, Manson JE, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Hankinson SE, Speizer FE, Willett WC. Birthweight as risk factor for breast cancer. Lancet 1996;348:1542-1546. [The authors reply. Lancet 1997;349:501-502]
  14. Rothman KJ, Michels KB. The continuing unethical use of placebo controls. N Engl J Med 1994;331:394-398. [The authors reply. N Engl J Med 1995;332:62.]