Michele La Merrill

Michele La Merrill

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Department of Environmental Toxicology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

4245 Meyer Hall

Research Interests


The La Merrill lab is interested in the gene x environment interactions that influence susceptibility to metabolic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome (a constellation of obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension), and resulting cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. We have conducted transcriptome, QTL, eQTL, and copy number variation studies to study the interaction of genetics and high fat diet and are currently working to integrate metabolome and methylome research on the developmental basis of toxicant-induced metabolic syndrome. We conduct both epidemiological- and experimental- research to integrate human observations with mechanistic investigations.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Specialties / Focus

  • Animal Genomics


  • ETX 198 Genes and the Environment, Winter 2013

Honors and Awards

  • 2009 Best Manuscript in the Occupational and Public Health Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology

    Professional Societies

    • The Endocrine Society
    • The Society of Toxicology
    • The American Heart Association


    • 2008 PhD Toxicology University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • 2010 MPH Epidemiology Mount Sinai School of Medicine



    Gill JA, La Merrill MA*. An emerging role for epigenetic regulation of Pgc-1a expression in environmentally stimulated brown adipose thermogenesis, Environmental Epigenetics, 2017, 3:dvx009, doi: 10.1093/eep/dvx009.



    La Merrill MA*, Lind PM, Salihovic S, van Bavel B, Lind L. The association between p,p’-DDE levels and left ventricular hypertrophy is mainly mediated by obesity. Environmental Research, 2017, DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2017.10.031.



    Cano-Sancho G, Salmon AG, La Merrill MA*. Association between exposure to p,p'-DDT and its metabolite p,p'-DDE with obesity: integrated systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2017, DOI:10.1289/EHP527.



    Smith AM, Smith AT, La Merrill MA, Liaw J, Steinmaus C. 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid (2,4-D) and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A meta-analysis accounting for exposure levels. Annals of Epidemiology, 2017, 27: 281-289.



    Cano-Sancho G, Smith A, La Merrill MA*. Triphenyl phosphate enhances adipogenic differentiation, glucose uptake and lipolysis via endocrine and noradrenergic mechanisms. In Vitro Toxicology, 2017, 40: 280-288, PMID 28163246.



    Green AJ, Graham JL, Gonzalez EA, La Frano MR, Petropoulou S-SE, Park J-S, Newman JW, Stanhope KL, Havel PJ, La Merrill MA*. Perinatal triphenyl phosphate exposure accelerates type 2 diabetes onset and increases adipose accumulation in UCD-Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus rats. Invited special issue of Reproductive Toxicology “Developmental Basis of Health and Disease”, 2016, 68: 119-129, doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.07.009, PMID 27421578.



    La Merrill MA*, Sethi, S, Benard L, Moshier E, Haraldsson B, Buettner C. Perinatal DDT exposure induces hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy in adult mice. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016,124:1722-1727, DOI:10.1289/EHP164, PMID 27325568.



    Ishikawa T, Graham JL, Stanhope KL, Havel PJ, La Merrill MA*. Effect of DDT exposure on lipids and energy balance in obese Sprague-Dawley rats before and after weight loss. Toxicology Reports, 2015, 2: 990-995, PMID processing. Open Access.



    Cohn BA, La Merrill M, Krigbaum NY, Yeh G, Park JS, Zimmermann L, and Cirillo PM. DDT exposure in utero and breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2015, 8: 2865-2872, PMID 26079774.



    La Merrill MA*, Cirillo PM, Krigbaum NY, and Cohn BA. The impact of prenatal parental tobacco smoking on risk of diabetes mellitus in middle-aged women. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 2015, Feb 10:1-8, PMID25665487.



    La Merrill M*, Karey E, Moshier E, Lindtner C, La Frano MR, Newman JW, Buettner C. Perinatal exposure of mice to the pesticide DDT impairs energy expenditure and metabolism in adult female offspring. PLOS ONE, 2014, 9: e103337, PMCID: PMC4116186.



    La Merrill M*, Cirillo PM, Terry MB, Krigbaum NY, Flom JD, and Cohn BA. Prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT and hypertension diagnosed in women before age 50: a longitudinal birth cohort study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2013, 121: 594-599, PMID 23591545/PMCID:PMC3673196.



    La Merrill M*, Torres-Sanchez L, Ruiz-Ramos R, López-Carrillo L, Cebrián Garcia M, and Chen J. The association between first trimester micronutrient intake, MTHFR genotypes, and global DNA methylation in pregnant women.  Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 2012, 25: 133-137, PMID21443409/PMCID:PMC3279137.



    La Merrill M*, Stein CR, Landrigan P, Engel SM, and Savitz DA. Prepregnancy body mass index, smoking during pregnancy, and infant birth weight. Annals of Epidemiology, 2011, 21: 413-420, PMID21421328/PMCID:PMC3090467.



    Gordon R, La Merrill M, Hunter K, Threadgill D, and Pomp D. Dietary fat-dependent transcriptional architecture and copy number alterations associated with modifiers of mammary cancer metastasis. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis, 2010, 27: 279-293, PMID20354763/PMCID: PMC439766.



    La Merrill M, Harper R, Birnbaum LS, Cardiff RD, and Threadgill DW. Maternal TCDD along with a diet high in fat increases mammary cancer incidence in mice. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010, 118: 596-601 (Cover article and Science Selection), PMID20435547/PMCID:PMC2866672.



    La Merrill M*, Gordon R, Hunter K, Threadgill D, and Pomp D. Dietary fat alters pulmonary metastasis of mammary cancers through cancer autonomous and non-autonomous changes in gene expression. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis, 2010, 27: 107-116, PMID20151316.



    La Merrill M, Kuruvilla BS, Birnbaum LS, Pomp D, and Threadgill DW. Dietary fat alters pubertal body composition and P450 induction following maternal TCDD exposure in DBA/2J mice. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009, 117: 1414-1419, PMID19750107/PMCID:PMC2737019.



    La Merrill M, Baston DS, Denison MS, Birnbaum LS, and Threadgill DW. Mouse breast cancer model-dependent changes in metabolic syndrome-associated phenotypes caused by maternal dioxin exposure and dietary fat. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2009, 296: E203-210, PMID18840765/PMCID:PMC2636987.



    Gordon R, Hunter K, La Merrill M, Sørensen P, Threadgill D, and Pomp D. Genotype x diet interactions in mice predisposed to mammary cancer: II. tumors and metastasis. Mammalian Genome, 2008, 19: 179-189, PMID18288525.