MacArthur Fellows Program

Joel Schwartz

Epidemiologist | Class of 1991

Washington, District of Columbia
44 at time of award
Published July 1, 1991

About Joel's Work

Joel Schwartz is an epidemiologist and biostatistician who works primarily on issues in environmental health.

Schwartz, whose research was a major factor in identifying lead exposure as a source of increased blood pressure and retarded growth, played a major role in the phaseout of lead in gasoline. Encompassing epidemiology, statistics, engineering, toxicology, economics, and physics, his investigations also identified air pollution as a risk factor for early death and hospitalization, and pioneered the use of cost-benefit analysis in setting environmental standards. These studies were instrumental in forcing the enactment of more stringent government standards for inhalable airborne particles. Schwartz has also studied risk factors for childhood asthma, and the role of nutrients in respiratory illness.  He was one of the first researchers to use longitudinal data analysis in environmental epidemiology.


Schwartz is an associate professor of environmental epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Harvard University, and is a principal investigator in a number of international research projects. For many years, he worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and has held visiting positions at the University of Basel, and the University of Wuppertal, Germany.

Schwartz received a B.A. (1969) and a Ph.D. (1980) from Brandeis University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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