Emily Oken

Professor, Department of Population Medicine

Vice Chair and Director of Faculty Development Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Director, Division of Chronic Disease Research Across the Lifecourse


Dr. Oken is a Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Oken received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1996 and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the Harvard Combined Program. She completed her fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and obtained her Master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Oken Directs the Division of Chronic Disease Research Across the Lifecourse within the department of Population Medicine. Her research focuses on the influence of nutrition and other modifiable factors during pregnancy and early childhood on long-term maternal and child health, especially cardiometabolic health, cognitive development, asthma, and atopy. She has also led a number of studies examining predictors and sequelae of maternal overweight, weight gain, and related conditions such as gestational diabetes mellitus in the peripartum period. Her work on the toxicant risks and nutrient benefits of prenatal fish consumption has influenced national guidelines for fish consumption during pregnancy, helping to shift the previous focus of risk-only or benefit-only studies to a broader emphasis on the overall health effects of fish consumption for mother and baby. In support of this work she has led longitudinal studies commencing in the peripartum period and following mothers and children throughout childhood. She is Principal Investigator of Project Viva, a groundbreaking US pre-birth cohort study that has followed pregnant women and their children since 1999. She is also PI and a co-leader of the team assessing cardio-metabolic, respiratory, and neurocognitive outcome measures on children enrolled 1996-7 in the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT), a cluster-randomized trial of breastfeeding promotion in the Republic of Belarus. She has served on committees to develop maternal nutrition guidelines both nationally and internationally. She has been inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)

Dr. Oken’s commitment to research mentorship and promoting diversity has been recognized with a K24 mid-career development grant from NICHD, the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award at HMS and the Mentoring award at the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (SPER). She chairs her departmental diversity committee and received the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award at HMS. She serves on the HMS Council of Mentors. Within the Department of Population Medicine, she is Vice-Chair, Director of Faculty Development, and co-site director for the Harvard General Medicine fellowship. At Harvard Medical School she co-Directs the Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health curriculum for first year medical students at HMS. For 15 years she practiced as a primary care physician in the Gretchen and Edward Fish Center for Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.