Cassie Spracklen

B.A. | M.S. | Ph.D.

Dr. Spracklen received her B.A. in Biology from Anderson University in 2009. She received both her M.S. and PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Iowa in 2011 and 2014, respectively. During her PhD, Dr. Spracklen’s research centered around reproductive and perinatal epidemiology with a focus on adverse pregnancy outcomes and lifecourse epidemiology. Dr. Spracklen’s dissertation, guided by Drs. Audrey Saftlas and Kelli Ryckman, was entitled “Dyslipidemia and the risk of preeclampsia: genetic causes and related modifiers”, and capitalized on data available from an NIH-funded case-control study called the Study of Pregnancy-induced Hypertension in Iowa (SOPHIA).

After completing her dissertation, Dr. Spracklen completed a five-year postdoctoral research fellowship in Genetic Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with Dr. Karen Mohlke.  At UNC, her research interests focused around understanding the genetic architecture of complex cardio-metabolic traits (e.g. lipids, adiponectin, T2D), particularly among non-European ancestry populations. Her work was conducted in both single cohort studies (MESTIM, CHNS, CLHNS) and very large meta-analyses as a part of international consortia efforts.

Dr. Spracklen joined the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an Assistant Professor in 2019.

Outside the office, you will find Dr. Spracklen walking or jogging (slowly!) on the Norwich Trail or hiking in one of the nearby state parks with her husband and young daughter. You can also find her buying fabric for her next quilt project, touring wineries, or traveling around the world!

Current Group Members

Goodness Biney

MS Epidemiology Student (2023-)

MS Thesis: Age at T2D diagnosis, depression, and risk of cardiovascular outcomes

Lichen Hao

PhD Epidemiology Student (2021-)

PhD Dissertation: Type 2 diabetes management in long-term care facilities: management, risk factors for hospitalization, and the impact of COVID

Spencer Friedman

Undergraduate informatics, Biochemistry Student (2022-)

Research Project: To be determined

Emily Nyhan

MS Epidemiology Student (2023-)

MS Thesis: Maternal birthweight and preterm birth and risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

Rachel Wacks

PhD Epidemiology Student (2023-)

PhD Dissertation: To be determined

Chi Zhao

PhD Epidemiology Student (2021-)

Research Projects: Trans-ethnic meta-analysis and fine-mapping analyses (GIANT consortium); identifying mechanisms influencing T2D risk (collaboration with Stitzel/Ucar groups at JAX); lipid GWAS and fine-mapping in the CHNS

PhD Dissertation: To be determined

Former Group Members

Christian Daniele

4+1 MS in Epidemiology Student (2021-2023)

Research Project: Associations between a women’s birth weight and gestational age and her longterm reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes

Daniele C, et al. Association of maternal birth weight and maternal preterm birth with subsequent risk for adverse reproductive outcomes: The Women’s Health Initiative. Early Hum Dev 2023. 

Thesis Project: Associations between a women’s birth weight and gestational age and the risk of hypertension

Caitlin Fields

MPH in Epidemiology Student (2021-2022)

MPH Project: The effect of the microbiome on rheumatoid arthritis risk: literature review and steps for the future

Isabella “Izzy” Gleckman

4+1 MPH in Epidemiology Student (2019-2020)

MPH Project: Patterns of smoking cessation and risk of low birth weight

Aaron Holman-Vittone

MS in Epidemiology Student (2021-2022)

Savannah Kangas

MPH in Epidemiology Student (2021-2022)

MPH Project: Incidence of congenital heart defects in offspring born to women with type 2 diabetes

Brian Monahan


MS Thesis: Birthweight and Subsequent Risk of Autoimmune and Thyroid Conditions in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) 

Monahan B, et al. Birthweight and subsequent risk for thyroid and autoimmune conditions in postmenopausal women. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2022;13(4):463.

Nora Salo


MPH Project: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Association Between Maternal Depression during Pregnancy and Preterm Birth Risk among Women in the United States

Vishal Kumar Sarsani

PhD in Statistics Student (2021-2023)

Research Project: Trans-ethnic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of adiponectin and the effect of adiponectin on cardiometabolic traits

Sarsani V, et al. A multi-ancestry genome-wide meta-analysis, fine-mapping, and gene prioritization approach to characterize the genetic architecture of adiponectin. Available on medRxiv.

Christina Ziogas

Undergraduate Public Health STUDENT (2019-2021)

Project: Validation of Maternal Recall and Birth Certificate Data of Events in Labor and Delivery with Medical Records in the Iowa Health in Pregnancy Study (IHIPS)

Ziogas C, et al. Validation of birth certificate and maternal recall of evens in labor and delivery with medical records in the Iowa Health in Pregnancy Study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2022;22(1):232.