Faculty Spotlight - Mary A. Fox, PhD, MPH

04/20/2015

Dr. Mary Fox is an Assistant Professor in the Health, Policy, and Management department here at Johns Hopkins and has been with the faculty since 2001. Throughout her career, Dr. Fox has been heavily involved in environmental health, toxicology and epidemiology, and attributes her interest in environmental health to her childhood, where she grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York.

Dr. Fox’s career began with the New York State Department of Health where she worked with a superfund site as an epidemiologist, studying symptom surveys and risk assessment processes for policies. Later, she would go on to study research and development methods as she came to Johns Hopkins for her PhD. Her thesis project took her to Philadelphia where she analyzed mixtures of chemicals and other social stressors and their cumulative risks on human health. Unlike most studies that studied only the top chemical mixtures, Dr. Fox took the unprecedented venture to fully analyze all 120 of the air pollutants that Philadelphia tracked. This led her to discover that chemical mixtures often correlate with community health and can contribute to health disparities. To this day, her thesis remains her most prized research project.

Her students, not surprisingly, have followed in her well-accomplished footsteps. Many have assisted her in developing new data sets, which help capture the variability in environmental and human health. One student for instance, has studied the correlation between lead exposures and kidney disease among vulnerable populations. Another has investigated mercury exposures and liver disease.

When asked what the most pressing issues are in her field, Dr. Fox said that social and biological stresses and disease need to be studied more closely. Roughly 25% of the US population is living with more than one chronic disease, and there are over 180 different air pollutants alone. This leaves us wondering: are we protecting the population as well as we think?

Interesting Facts about Dr. Mary Fox: 
1) Dr. Fox served in the Peace Corps working with water supply and sanitation in Nepal
2) Mary Fox enjoys alternative rock and can be found listneing to the R&R station on her way to work 
3) Dr. Fox considers herself one for the classics--her favorite band is The Beatles! 

Keywords:

Global Water