Biostatistics & Epidemiology

Faculty Profile

  • Zorimar Rivera-Núñez, MS, PhD

  • Assistant Research Professor

  • Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

  • CV

Keywords

Environmental epidemiology, biomarkers, measurement error, endocrine disruptors, drinking water contaminants, maternal health, pregnancy, placenta, big data.

Biography
Dr. Rivera-Núñez holds a BS in Microbiology and a MS in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. Her doctoral degree is from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She completed a National Academies post-doctoral fellowships at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati, OH. Before coming to Rutgers she was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School, Public Health Program. Dr. Rivera-Núñez studies chemical exposures and its effects in early life and subsequent health. Most of her research focuses on: (1) effect of measurement error characterizing environmental exposure, (2) the utility of biomarkers identifying windows of exposure and susceptibility, and (3) the effect of perinatal exposures in birth outcomes and children’s development.

Research Interests
Dr. Rivera-Núñez is interested in exposure assessment of endocrine disruptors (EDCs) during pregnancy and early life. Pregnancy/birth studies harbors specific challenges due to the physiological and behavioral factors that may come into play during pregnancy. For example, pregnant women have a weakened immune system and higher water or food intake. Zearalenone (ZEN) and a-zearalanol (ZER) are estrogenic mycotoxins produced by Fusarium fungi. They bind to estrogen receptors a and ß with higher affinity than other well-studied EDCs (such as DDT and BPA), and exhibit higher estrogenic potency than genistein and other isoflavones. Although, ZEN and ZER can be detected in a wide range of food products including cereal grains, meat, milk, wine, beer, dried fruit, and spices, there is an absence of reliable human data on excretion rates, dose-response, and impact of age and gender among other important factors and modifiers. Dr. Rivera-Núñez and colleagues are characterizing ZEN and ZER exposure and identify dietary sources of ZEN and ZER during pregnancy. Another area of research for Dr. Rivera-Núñez is exposure assessment of drinking water contaminants. Her postdoctoral work documented the change in drinking water disinfection treatment from chlorination to chloramination in the United States drinking water systems and their impact in pregnancy outcomes. They have examined this change by linking more than ten years of birth data to drinking water quality data. These publications described how to minimize exposure misclassification from environmental missing data, chemical mixtures, and short windows of exposure. This work is integral part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts rule revision. In addition to her work in exposure assessment science, Dr. Rivera-Núñez is interested in large data sets and its utility in public health. Public Health has benefited from the collection of nation-wide data for surveillance and prevention strategies. Today, large retrospective data sets have multiple applications and the potential to initiate changes not only in public health but in clinical practice as well. Some of her work in this area examines the use of different treatment therapies in childhood cancer and social determinants of childhood cancer. Another area of research for Dr. Rivera-Núñez is exposure assessment of drinking water contaminants. Her postdoctoral work documented the change in drinking water disinfection treatment from chlorination to chloramination in the United States drinking water systems and their impact in pregnancy outcomes. They have examined this change by linking more than ten years of birth data to drinking water quality data. These publications described how to minimize exposure misclassification from environmental missing data, chemical mixtures, and short windows of exposure. This work is integral part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts rule revision. In addition to her work in exposure assessment science, Dr. Rivera-Núñez is interested in large data sets and its utility in public health. Public Health has benefited from the collection of nation-wide data for surveillance and prevention strategies. Today, large retrospective data sets have multiple applications and the potential to initiate changes not only in public health but in clinical practice as well. Some of her work in this area examines the use of different treatment therapies in childhood cancer and social determinants of childhood cancer.

Select Publications
Z Rivera-Núñez,JR Meliker,AM Linder,JO Nriagu (2010) "Reliability of spot urine samples in assessing arsenic exposure.", International journal of hygiene and environmental health 213(5) 259-64- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20427236&report=abstract

Z Rivera-Núñez,JM Wright,BC Blount,LK Silva,E Jones,RL Chan,RA Pegram,PC Singer,DA Savitz (2012) "Comparison of trihalomethanes in tap water and blood: a case study in the United States.", Environmental health perspectives 120(5) 661-7- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22281753 &report=abstract

AM Evans,JM Wright,A Meyer,Z Rivera-Núñez (2013) "Spatial variation of disinfection by-product concentrations: exposure assessment implications.", Water research 47(5) 6130-40- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23993731&report=abstract

NJ Farber,Z Rivera-Núñez,S Kim,B Shinder,K Radadia,J Sterling,PK Modi,S Goyal,R Parikh,TM Mayer,RE Weiss,IY Kim,SE Elsamra,TL Jang,EA Singer (2019) "Trends and outcomes of lymphadenectomy for nonmetastatic renal cell carcinoma: A propensity score-weighted analysis of the National Cancer Database.", Urologic oncology 37(5) 26-32- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30446458&report=abstract

Z Rivera-Núñez,JM Wright,A Meyer (2018) "Exposure to disinfectant by-products and the risk of stillbirth in Massachusetts.", Occupational and environmental medicine 75(5) 742-751- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30061312&report=abstract

Z Rivera-Núñez,Z Pan,B Dulience,H Becker,J Steensma,A Hobson,DE Giammar,LL Iannotti (2018) "Water metal contaminants in a potentially mineral-deficient population of Haiti.", International journal of environmental health research 28(5) 626-634- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30078339&report=abstract

SR Jhawar,Z Rivera-Núñez,R Drachtman,PD Cole,BS Hoppe,RR Parikh (2019) "Association of Combined Modality Therapy vs Chemotherapy Alone With Overall Survival in Early-Stage Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma.", JAMA oncology 5(5) 689-695- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30605220&report=abstract

Z Rivera-Núñez,ES Barrett,EA Szamreta,SA Shapses,B Qin,Y Lin,H Zarbl,B Buckley,EV Bandera (2019) "Urinary mycoestrogens and age and height at menarche in New Jersey girls.", Environmental health : a global access science source 18(5) 24- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30902092&report=abstract

Scholarly Activities
Society of Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology Research

International Society of Exposure Science

International Society of Environmental Epidemiology