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Katherine A. James, PhD, MSPH, MSCE

Assistant Professor, Co-Investigator, TABS on Health


Dr. James is an epidemiologist and a specialist in environmental systems. She has experience in leading and conducting research projects. She was the principal investigator of the NIEHS funded Cardiovascular Effects of Environmental Cadmium Exposure, to evaluate clinical cardiovascular disease associated with exposure to cadmium. Dr. James also led a comprehensive research project investigating inorganic arsenic exposure and cardiometabolic outcomes in the San Luis Valley cohort. These epidemiologic studies are among the first to show associations with low-level arsenic exposure (<50 µg/L) with direct relevance to the exposure range of the US population. Recently, she completed a Faculty Development Investigator Award through the Denver Children’s Environmental Health Center at National Jewish Health investigating the association between air quality and respiratory burden in the San Luis Valley. Results found a 64 percent increase in daily pediatric emergent and urgent care visits three days after high PM10 levels (> 100ppb). For the past three years, Dr. James has led a CDC funded biomonitoring tracking grant in a pediatric population in the San Luis Valley measuring exposures to 17 metals, pyrethroids, phthalates, and other pesticides through urine and water samples. Preliminary findings have identified about one third of the population with elevated levels of exposure.

Research Interests
  • Environmental exposure to metals and pesticides and chronic diseases
  • Environmental exposures in pediatric populations and health outcomes
  • Climate change impact on water resources quality and quantity and the potential health impacts
  • Environmental exposures in water resources
  • Exposure to dust and large particles and respiratory diseases, especially asthma
Key Publications

  • James, K.A., Meliker, J.R., Nriagu, J.O., 2017. Arsenic. In: Quah, S.R. and Cockerham, W.C. (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Public Health, 2nd edition. vol. 1, pp. 170–175. Oxford: Academic Press.
  • James, K.A., Hall DA. (2015) Groundwater pesticide levels and the association with Parkinson disease. Int J Toxicol. 34(3):266-73.
  • James, K.A., T Byers, JE Hokanson, JR Meliker, GO Zerbe, JA Marshall. 2014 Association between Lifetime Exposure to Inorganic Arsenic in Drinking Water and Coronary Heart Disease in Colorado Residents. Environmental Health Perspectives Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Feb;123(2):128-34.
  • James, K.A., JR Meliker, BE Buttenfield, T Byers, GO Zerbe, JE Hokanson, JA Marshall (2014) Predicting arsenic concentrations in groundwater of San Luis Valley, Colorado: implications for individual-level lifetime exposure assessment. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 36(4): 773- 782
  • James, K.A. and JR Meliker (2013) Environmental cadmium exposure and osteoporosis: a review. International Journal of Public Health Oct;58(5):737-45 DOI:10.1007/s00038-013-0488-8
  • James, K.A., Marshall JA, Meliker JR, Hokanson JE, Zerbe GO, Byers TE. (2014)Lifetime exposure to inorganic arsenic in drinking water and the association with diabetes mellitus. Environmental Research May;123:33-8.
  • James, K.A., Meliker JR, Marshall JA, Hokanson JE, Zerbe GO, Byers TE. Validation of estimates of past exposure to arsenic in drinking water using historical urinary arsenic concentrations. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013 Feb 27. doi: 10.1038.

Courses Taught

2012 – present: EPID 7605 (Research Methods in Secondary Data Analysis) [3 credit, average 10 stu/yr]

2011 and present: PBHL 2020 Introduction to Environmental and Occupational Health [3 credit, 60 stu/yr]


BS Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Biological Systems Engineering, 1996
MSPH University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center, Public Health, 2000
MS University of Colorado, Boulder, Civil/Environmental Engineering, 2002
PhD University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Epidemiology, 2010

Honors and Awards
  • 2013: Selected for the Early Career Women in Medicine Leadership Conference July 2013
  • 2012: Faculty Development Award Children’s Environmental Health Center, National Jewish Hospital
  • 2011: American Academy of Neurology Conference, Selected as a top abstract for presentation by the scientific chair, Dr. Stefan Pulst, in the “Scientific Program Highlights Plenary Session”.
  • 2000: Awarded Travel Scholarship Royal Society Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to travel to the Republic of Mauritius for environmental research and training.
  • 1999: Dennis Burkitt Fellowship from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

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