Carolyn Drews-Botsch, PhD, MPH


Dr. Carolyn Drews-Botsch is Professor and Chair of Global and Community Health in the College of Public Health. Her research has focused on the epidemiology of pediatric conditions and the factors, particularly in the perinatal period, that contribute to their etiology. Specifically, her work seeks to understand these conditions, and carefully apply modern epidemiologic methods to studies of these conditions. Her research program has included work in a variety of related fields including congenital cataracts, fetal growth restriction – particularly in relationship to placental development, intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. 

Some key findings include: 

  • The role of socioeconomic status on developmental outcomes: It has long been recognized that social class is a strong predictor of neurodevelopment. For example, the prevalence of mild intellectual disability is more than twice as high in children from poorer households as among children whose families are more affluent. What has been less clear, however, is how this relationship impacts the effects of other, physiologic, risk factors for adverse development. I have been involved in a variety of studies which have sought to address this question by examining risk factors for intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities in more homogeneous phenotypic categories and within social strata. This work led to a paradigm shift in understanding that socioeconomic status contributes to severe intellectual disability when there are no other underlying biological factors that impact cognitive development, as well as an understanding that biological insults may impact the risk of intellectual disability differently depending on the child’s social class.
  • The impact of vision impairment on children’s quality of life: Spectacles and/or contact lenses, and occlusion therapy are commonly used to treat in children with vision disorders. Further, even given early and aggressive treatment, a significant proportion of children with unilateral cataracts are left with poor vision in the treated eye and little stereopsis. However, relatively little is known about the impact of these treatments or these conditions on the lives of children and their families. Her work has focused on assessing the amount of occlusion therapy that these children receive during early childhood, as well as the impact of these treatments on quality of life and motor development.
  • Understanding and minimizing bias in epidemiologic studies of perinatal outcomes:  It has become increasingly recognized that pregnancy, and in utero development, set the stage for later health outcomes and risk of disease.  However, high rates of loss to pregnancy losses – even before pregnancy recognition, the importance of stages of vulnerability, the difficulty of assessing exposure to the fetus as compared to maternal exposure, the often long lag between development and identification of conditions, and the reliance on maternal recall of events and exposures complicate epidemiologic studies of conditions.  Her methodologic work has sought to empirically investigate the impact of bias, particularly information bias, on the results of epidemiologic studies. Specifically, my dissertation investigated the extent to which mothers of infants who had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome reported events with differential accuracy as compared to mothers of control infants.  This work led to work to investigate the impact of how choosing different control groups might rectify this situation as well as work on analytic methods to control for differential recall.  

Prior to coming to Mason, Dr. Drews-Botsch was a tenured professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  Her administrative responsibilities included terms as Vice Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Associate Dean in the Laney School of Graduate Studies.  


Select Publications

  • Reddy UM, Page GP, Saade GR et al, 2013, Genetic abnormalities in still birth: comparison of karyotype and microarray testing, New England Journal of Medicine, 367, 2185-2193

  • Bracken, Michael B., et al. , 2013, New models for large prospective studies: is there a risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater?." , American Journal of epidemiology , 177, 285-289

  • Celano M, Hartmann EE, Drews-Botsch CD, 2013, Parenting Stress in the Infant Aphakia Treatment Study, Journal of Pediatric Psychology , ,

  • Drews-Botsch CD, Celano M, Kruger S, Hartmann EE, 2012, Adherence to occlusion therapy in the six months of follow up and visual acuity among participants in the Infant Aphakia Treatment Study (IATS)., Investigative Ophthalmology Visual Science , 53, 3368-3375

  • Angeles-Han S, Prahalad S, Ponder L, et al., 2012, Concordance between child and parent-proxy report on a new self-report tool of vision related quality of life for children with JIA-associated uveitis – “Effects of Youngsters’ Eyesight on QOL -EYE-Q, Pediatric Rhuematology, 10, A43

  • Schieve LA, Rice C, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Boyle CA, Kogan MD, Drews C, Devine O. , 2012, Parent-reported prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in US-born children: An assessment of changes within birth cohorts from the 2003 to the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health. , Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16, 1151-1157

  • Drews-Botsch CD, Hartmann EE, Celano M, 2012, Predictors of adherence to occlusion therapy three months after cataract extraction in the Infant Aphakia Treatment Study, Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 16, 150-155

  • Obi O, Van Naarden Braun K, Baio J, Drews-Botsch C, Devine O, Yeargin-Allsopp M. , 2011, Effect of incorporating adaptive functioning scores on the prevalence of intellectual disability. , American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental, 5, 360-370

  • Drews C, Schieve LA, Kable J, Coles C. , 2011, Socioeconomic differences in the impact of being small for gestational age on neurodevelopment among preschool-aged children. , Reviews on Environmental Health. , 26, 221-229

  • Lyles RH, Zhang F, Drews-Botsch CD, 2007, Combining internal and external validation data to correct for exposure misclassification: A case study., American Journal of Epidemiology, 28, 321-8

Honors and Awards

  • Selected by President Wagner and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women to attend HERS, 2006,
  • Elected, Upsilon Chapter, Delta Omega
  • Outstanding Graduate Student, UCLA Public Health Alumni Association
  • Participant, Society for Epidemiologic Research Student Workshop
  • Auxiliary Scholarship, UCLA Medical Center
  • University Grant, School of Public Health, UCLA
  • National Research Service Award in Cancer Epidemiology, National Institutes of Health
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, Bush Foundation
  • Elected, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Provost's Honor Roll, University of California, San Diego


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Master of Public Health, Population and Faculty Health, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Bachelor of Arts , Biology, University of California, San Diego