Sathyanarayana Lab

Studying How Chemicals Affect Children

The Sathyanarayana Lab investigates how chemicals in our environment impact children, and develops ways to reduce chemical exposures and help families lead healthier lives.

The lab’s current research looks at how phthalates – endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are in our general environment and everyday products – affect how children develop, starting with babies in the womb. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect hormones in the body that are important for growth and development.

We are part of a multicenter research team that found that phthalates can adversely affect how male genitals develop, increasing the risk of future reproductive problems. Now, we are getting ready to study phthalates’ affect on neurodevelopment during the preschool years. We are also working to pinpoint how phthalates interact with the genes and hormones that govern reproductive development.

Watch Sathyanarayana discuss the dangers of environmental chemicals.


Visit our Current Research page to learn more about our current research studies:

  • Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) PATHWAYS
  • The Infant Development and Environment Study (TIDES)

Helping Families Avoid Chemicals

Our research is an extension of Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana’s clinical and policy work. As a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Harborview Medical Center, Sathyanarayana counsels families on how to reduce chemicals in their lives. She also co-directs the University of Washington’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, where she educates physicians and residents about how environmental exposures affect health – and on ways to incorporate this evidence into clinical practice.

Promoting Policies That Reduce Chemical Exposures

On the policy front, Sathyanarayana constantly seeks new ways to translate research into policies that improve children’s lives. She co-chaired the Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee for four years and holds other key policy positions. This includes serving on a National Academies of Science Committee that examines the health impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemical exposures. These positions enable her to work with policy makers to improve regulations and protect children from chemicals’ harmful effects.

Sathyanarayana’s policy-related positions have included:

  • Current committee member, National Academies of Science Committee to examine the effects of low dose endocrine disruptor chemical toxicity
  • Past co-chair, Academic Pediatrics Association, Environmental Health Special Interest Group
  • Past elected member, appointed co-chair and appointed chair, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee
  • Past appointed liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board

Sathyanarayana Lab Team

Sheela Sathyanarayana

Sheela Sathayanarayana

Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD, MPH, is a principal investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and an adjunct associate professor in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. She is also an attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Harborview Medical Center. She received an MD from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and MPH from the University of Washington.


View a complete list of Sathyanarayana’s publications on PubMed.