Ellen Silbergeld
Ellen Silbergeld

Ellen Silbergeld, PhD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

  • Environmental Health and Engineering (Primary)
  • Epidemiology (Joint)
  • Health Policy and Management (Joint)

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street, E6644
Baltimore, Maryland 21205

P:  (410)955-8678
F:  (410)955-9334
E: esilber2@jhu.edu

Personal website: http://www.jhsph.edu/departments/environmental-health-sciences/training-grant-opportunities/fogarty-mongolia-training-grant/


PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 1972


Trained at Hopkins in geography and environmental engineering (PhD '72) and postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Health Sciences ('72-75). NIH staff fellowship followed by senior scientist position at Environmental Defense and professorship at University of Maryland Medical School. Served as scientific advisor to NTP-NIH, CDC, EPA, DOE, OSHA, states of Maryland and New York, World Bank, ILO, UNEP, WHO, and PAHO.

My research and professional activities bridge science and public policy, with a focus on the incorporation of research in both toxicology and epidemiology into environmental and occupational health policy. Areas of current focus include: cardiovascular risks of arsenic, lead, and cadmium; immunotoxicity of mercury compounds; health and environmental impacts of industrial food animal production. These projects include epidemiological studies and mechanistic research on gene:environment interactions and the emergence and dissemination of antibiotic resistant pathogens in populations and in the environment. Some of this research is conducted internationally (mercury studies in the Amazon; lead/cadmium/arsenic studies in Mexico; mining and development in Mongolia; zoonotic diseases in Thailand and the Netherlands). 

In 2016 I was appointed as special consultant to the WHO Food Safety Programme.

Honors and honors

Fellowships from Fulbright, Kennedy, Rockefeller, Danforth, Woodrow Wilson Foundations. Phi Beta Kappa, Vassar College. Barsky Award, Amer Public Health Assn. MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship. Lifetime Achievement Award, Society of Toxicology Metals Section. Distinguished Alumna award, Johns Hopkins University. Member, scientific advisory councils for EPA, PAHO, CDC, Department of Energy, NIH-NIEHS. Consultant, World Bank, WHO, UNEP, OSHA, and ILO.



PBS interview on antimicrobial resistance and agriculture August 2017


Interview about "Chickenizing" on Sirius radio October 10, 2016 https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/sites/default/files/books_audio/ellensclip.mp3

Interview about antimicrobial resistance BBC_World_News-2016-09-22_02-14-37.mp4 Antibiotics.mp4

WYPR interview with Tom Pelton THE ENVIRONMENT IN FOCUS -- interview about my book "Chickenizing Farms and Fork" http://wypr.org/post/new-book-explains-how-perdue-s-chickenizing-changed-world SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

JOHNS HOPKINS MAGAZINE "BETWEEN FARM TO FORK" http://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2016/fall/industrial-farms-food-safety/


INTERVIEW AT SAIS Bologna on The Mongolia Project, 2012  https://www.google.com/search?q=Ellen+Silbergeld+SAIS&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb

ARTICLE IN VASSAR MAGAZINE MRSA in food animal production 2013 http://vq.vassar.edu/issues/2013/01/beyond-vassar/superbugs-on-the-move.html

HOW IT ALL BEGAN WITH THE CHICKENS 2009 http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0609web/farm.html


SPECIAL NEWS:  In September 2016 my book, CHICKENIZING FARMS AND FOOD, was published by JHU Press.  This tells how I got involved with studying antimicrobial resistance in agriculture, contests with government and industry, new discoveries in the lab and field, and proposes solutions to the way we feed ourselves in the 21st century.

The first review of this book appears Science

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6304/1088.fulL. ADDITIONAL REVIEWS CAN BE FOUND IN KIRKUS, THE TIMES (LONDON) EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT.

Research Interests

  • industrial farming
  • food safety
  • molecular devices for pathogen detection
  • disease modeling
  • antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • heavy metals
  •   environmental and occupational health


I have worked in several areas of environmental and occupational health, including toxicology, microbiology, and epidemiology. Below are representative papers that demonstrate the relevance of these fields for understanding and, importantly, preventing these risks In 2016, I published a book, CHICKENIZING FARMS AND FOOD, which deals with the history of intensive or industrial food animal production starting in Maryland and now the global model in agriculture, and the current problems of worker and food safety, environmental impacts, and community integrity.

  • Papers about industrial food animal production and antibiotic resistance Silbergeld EK, Davis M, Leibler JH, and Peterson AE.  One reservoir:  Redefining the community origins of antimicrobial-resstant infections.  Med. Clin. N Am 92:1391-1407, 2008.
  • PAPERS ON MERCURY AND OTHER TOXIC METALS Silva IA, Nyland JF, Gorman A, Perisse A, Ventura AM, Santos EC, Souza JM, Burek CL, Rose NR, Silbergeld EK. Mercury exposure, malaria, and serum antinuclear/antinucleolar antibodies in amazon populations in Brazil: a cross-sectional study.  Environ Health  3(1):3-11, 2004. Environ Health Persp 119(5):664-669, 2011.
  • OTHER PUBLICATIONS POLICY RELEVANT PAPERS Silbergeld EK, Mandrioli D, and Cranor CF. Regulating Chemicals: Law, Science, and the Unbearable Burdens of Regulation. Annu. Rev. Public Health 2015. 36:175–91
  • MICROBIOME Dietert R Silbergeld EK. Biomarkers for the 21st century: listening to the microbiome. Toxicol Sci, 144(2):208, 2015.
  • OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH Kyeremateng-Amoah E, Nowell J, Lutty A, Lees PS, Silbergeld EK. Laceration injuries and infections among workers in the poultry processing and pork meatpacking industries. Am J Ind Med. 2014 Jun;57(6):669-82, 2014.