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Rita S. Strakovsky

Rita StrakovskyAssistant Professor, Human Nutrition

Trout Building
469 Wilson Rd, Rm. 236
East Lansing, MI 48824

Research Interests:
My research focuses on the maternal determinants of fetal development and offspring health. I am interested in studying how the maternal metabolic milieu communicates the maternal experience with the developing fetus, specifically focusing on the interactions between maternal obesity and environmental exposures. I have worked extensively in rodent pregnancy models to study the effects of maternal diet or exposure to environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the epigenetic regulation of energy metabolism in offspring. Driven by findings from these studies, my current research in a human pregnancy cohort has two primary aims: 1) To assess the relationship between gestational exposure to several phthalates/phenols and pregnancy estrogen and testosterone status. An additional goal of this aim is to determine whether maternal adiposity and/or body fat distribution modify the above relationships; and 2) To determine whether exposure to these same chemicals alters the fetal supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) or the supply of other lipid classes critical for fetal development (using a lipidomics approach). An additional question within this aim is whether the aforementioned relationship between EDC exposures and estrogen status mediates the proposed relationships between EDCs and LC-PUFAs/lipids. My long-term goal is to leverage data from the human cohort to inspire questions in animal models, and to utilize animal models to unravel the mechanisms behind the findings in pregnant women and their babies.

Topics of Interest:

  • ​Maternal obesity and lipid metabolism
  • ​Maternal macronutrient intake and metabolic diseases
  • ​Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • ​Epigenetics and Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)
  • ​Placenta 

Educational Background:
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.S., 2005, Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, R.D., 2011, Registered Dietitian
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D., 2011, Nutritional Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Postdoctoral Research, NIEHS/EPA Children's Environmental Health Research Center

  • T32 postdoctoral fellow in Endocrine, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology
  • K99/R00 postdoctoral research associate, Illinois Kids Development Study (I-KIDS)

Selected Professional Activities:
Dr. Rita Strakovsky is an Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) as well as the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and was recently voted in as Chair Elect of the Nutrient-Gene Interaction Research Interest Section within ASN. Dr. Strakovsky is a peer reviewer for Advances in Nutrition, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Environmental Health Perspectives, Nutrition, Nutrition Reviews, Toxicological Sciences, and Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology​. Her current research is supported by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award from NIEHS (2015-2020).


Search PubMed at the National Library of Medicine:

Laboratory Trainees:
Diana Pcyga, pre-doctoral student, Human Nutrition