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Jennifer L. Ames, MS, PhD

Kaiser Permanente Researcher Profiles

Jennifer  Ames, MS, PhD

Jennifer Ames, PhD, is a Research Scientist at the Division of Research (DOR), Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the assistant director of the Kaiser Permanente Autism Research Program. She specializes in the epidemiology of autism, health services research in autistic children and adults, and children’s environmental health. The goals of her research are two-fold: 1) The first goal seeks to improve the delivery of health services to autistic people across the lifespan. She currently leads studies focused on enhancing the transition from pediatric to adult care for autistic youth and improving access to reproductive health care services in autistic youth and adults. 2) The second goal of her research, funded by a K99/R00 pathway to independence award from NIEHS, is to understand how genetic and environmental factors may interact during the prenatal period and influence autistic traits and health outcomes.

Dr. Ames is also a co-investigator on the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Study and on the NIH Autism Center of Excellence: Combining advances in Genomics and Environmental science to accelerate Actionable Research and practice in ASD (GEARs) Network.  Dr. Ames holds a PhD in epidemiology from the University of California Berkeley, a master’s of science in environmental health from the Boston University School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s in history and science from Harvard University.

Current Positions

  • Research Scientist, Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Section Affiliations

Primary Research Interests

  • Epidemiology of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Environmental exposures and gene/environment interactions


Healthcare transition outcomes among autistic youth at KPNC

The study follows a cohort of autistic and non-autistic youth longitudinally to examine several transition indicators measurable in the EHR including: continuation of medications and other treatments during the transition years; length of time elapsed between last pediatric appointment and first adult primary care appointment; and frequency of unnecessary visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations. Evidence will be used to enhance KP’s delivery model for the transition of autistic youth from pediatric to adult health care.

Investigator: Ames, Jennifer

Funder: Northern California Community Benefit Programs

Interactions of Environmental Chemical Mixtures, Genetics, and Immune Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorder

The goal of this K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award is to receive mentored training in polygenic GWAS tools and complex mixtures modeling to position my career toward understanding the roles of GxE interactions and immune disruption in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder(ASD). This research will examine the interplay of cumulative exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), immune markers (cytokines/chemokines), and ASD; examine genetic (maternal and fetal) influences on mid-pregnancy circulating levels of EDCs; and combine K99 methodologic training in polygenic and complex mixtures tools to a study of GxE interactions in ASD. The K99 research will use data from the Early Markers for Autism study (EMA) with possible extension to the NIH ECHO or KPRB Birth Cohort studies during the R00 phase.

Investigator: Ames, Jennifer

Funder: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Understanding Barriers to Reproductive Health Care among Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This project will examine both reproductive health disparities and OB/GYN health care gaps for 2300 adolescent and adult women with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) receiving care at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, paying particular attention to differences across sociodemographic characteristics, co-occurring psychiatric and physical health conditions, and type and frequency of other interactions with the health care system. We will also characterize the epidemiology of pregnancy and obstetrics care utilization including frequency of recommended prenatal visits, screenings, and perinatal complications among women with ASD compared with a control sample of neurotypical women. Our findings will inform development of strategies for improving provider knowledge, care practices, and effective health care delivery for this vulnerable population.

Investigator: Ames, Jennifer

Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Barriers to Obstetric/Gynecological Health Care for Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This study will identify the sociodemographic and health factors associated with low utilization of obstetrics/gynecology services among adult women with autism spectrum disorders and explore whether these women are at higher risk of adverse maternal and birth outcomes than women who do not have autism spectrum disorder.

Investigator: Ames, Jennifer

Funder: Northern California Community Benefit Programs


Prenatal depression and risk of child autism-related traits among participants in the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes program

Authors: Avalos, Lyndsay A;Gao, Xingyu;Cioffi, Camille C;Goldson, Brandon;Wright, Rosalind J;Zhu, Yeyi;Program Collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes,;et al.

Autism Res. 2023 Sep;16(9):1825-1835. Epub 2023-08-01.

PubMed abstract

Health conditions in autism: Defining the trajectory from adolescence to early adulthood

Authors: Malow, Beth A;Qian, Yinge;Ames, Jennifer L;Alexeeff, Stacey;Croen, Lisa A

Autism Res. 2023 Jul;16(7):1437-1449. Epub 2023-06-28.

PubMed abstract

Neonatal immune signatures differ by sex regardless of neurodevelopmental disorder status: Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) alone reveals a sex by diagnosis interaction effect

Authors: Kim, Danielle H J;Iosif, Ana-Maria;Ramirez-Celis, Alexandra;Ashwood, Paul;Ames, Jennifer L;Lyall, Kristen;Berger, Kimberly;Croen, Lisa A;Van de Water, Judy

Brain Behav Immun. 2023 Jul;111:328-333. Epub 2023-05-08.

PubMed abstract

Opportunities for Inclusion and Engagement in the Transition of Autistic Youth from Pediatric to Adult Healthcare: A Qualitative Study

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Mahajan, Arjun; Davignon, Meghan N; Massolo, Maria L; Croen, Lisa A

J Autism Dev Disord. 2023 May;53(5):1850-1861. Epub 2022-03-09.

PubMed abstract

Prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and childhood autism-related outcomes

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Avalos, Lyndsay A; Croen, Lisa A; Ferrara, Assiamira; Hedderson, Monique M; Zhu, Yeyi; program collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes,; et al.

Epidemiology. 2023 May 01;34(3):450-459. Epub 2023-04-03.

PubMed abstract

Racial/Ethnic Differences in Psychiatric and Medical Diagnoses Among Autistic Adults

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Morgan, Elizabeth H; Onaiwu, Morénike Giwa; Qian, Yinge; Massolo, Maria L; Croen, Lisa A

Autism Adulthood. 2022 Dec 01;4(4):290-305. Epub 2022-12-13.

PubMed abstract

Coping strategies for COVID-19 pandemic-related stress and mental health during pregnancy

Authors: Badon, Sylvia E; Croen, Lisa A; Ferrara, Assiamira; Ames, Jennifer L; Hedderson, Monique M; Young-Wolff, Kelly C; Zhu, Yeyi; Avalos, Lyndsay A

J Affect Disord. 2022 Jul 15;309:309-313. Epub 2022-04-28.

PubMed abstract

Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Health Care of Autistic People

Authors: Graham Holmes L; Ames JL; Massolo ML; Nunez DM; Croen LA

Pediatrics. 2022 Apr 01;149(Suppl 4).

PubMed abstract

Associations of COVID-19-Related Health, Healthcare and Economic Factors With Prenatal Depression and Anxiety

Authors: Avalos, Lyndsay A; Nance, Nerissa; Badon, Sylvia E; Young-Wolff, Kelly; Ames, Jennifer; Zhu, Yeyi; Hedderson, Monique M; Ferrara, Assiamira; Zerbo, Ousseny; Greenberg, Mara; Croen, Lisa A

Int J Public Health. 2022;67:1604433. Epub 2022-05-04.

PubMed abstract

Considering Toxic Chemicals in the Etiology of Autism

Authors: Volk, Heather E; Ames, Jennifer L; Chen, Aimin; Fallin, M Daniele; Hertz-Picciotto, Irva; Halladay, Alycia; Hirtz, Deborah; Lavin, Arthur; Ritz, Beate; Zoeller, Tom; Swanson, Maureen

Pediatrics. 2022 01 01;149(1).

PubMed abstract

Contributions of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Stressors to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health During Pregnancy

Authors: Avalos, Lyndsay A; Nance, Nerissa; Zhu, Yeyi; Croen, Lisa A; Young-Wolff, Kelly C; Zerbo, Ousseny; Hedderson, Monique M; Ferrara, Assiamira; Ames, Jennifer L; Badon, Sylvia E

Front Psychiatry. 2022;13:837659. Epub 2022-03-14.

PubMed abstract

Maternal Psychiatric Conditions, Treatment With Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Croen, Lisa A; et al.

Biol Psychiatry. 2021 08 15;90(4):253-262. Epub 2021-04-14.

PubMed abstract

Healthcare service utilization and cost among transition-age youth with autism spectrum disorder and other special healthcare needs

Authors: Ames JL; Massolo ML; Davignon MN; Qian Y; Croen LA

Autism. 2021 04;25(3):705-718. Epub 2020-06-25.

PubMed abstract

Transitioning youth with autism spectrum disorders and other special health care needs into adult primary care: A provider survey

Authors: Ames JL; Massolo ML; Davignon MN; Qian Y; Cerros HJ; Croen LA

Autism. 2021 04;25(3):731-743. Epub 2020-06-18.

PubMed abstract

A profile and review of findings from the Early Markers for Autism study: unique contributions from a population-based case-control study in California

Authors: Lyall, Kristen; Ames, Jennifer L; Croen, Lisa A; et al.

Mol Autism. 2021 03 18;12(1):24. Epub 2021-03-18.

PubMed abstract

Prenatal Exposure to Mixtures of Phthalates, Parabens, and Other Phenols and Obesity in Five-Year-Olds in the CHAMACOS Cohort

Authors: Berger, Kimberly; Hyland, Carly; Ames, Jennifer L; Mora, Ana M; Huen, Karen; Eskenazi, Brenda; Holland, Nina; Harley, Kim G

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 02 12;18(4). Epub 2021-02-12.

PubMed abstract

COVID-19 prevalence, symptoms, and sociodemographic disparities in infection among insured pregnant women in Northern California

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Ferrara, Assiamira; Avalos, Lyndsay A; Badon, Sylvia E; Greenberg, Mara B; Hedderson, Monique M; Kuzniewicz, Michael W; Young-Wolff, Kelly C; Zerbo, Ousseny; Zhu, Yeyi; Croen, Lisa A; et al.

PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0256891. Epub 2021-09-03.

PubMed abstract

Neonatal Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and Subsequent Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability

Authors: Ames JL; Windham GC; Lyall K; Pearl M; Kharrazi M; Yoshida CK; Van de Water J; Ashwood P; Croen LA

Autism Res. 2020 03;13(3):444-455. Epub 2019-12-10.

PubMed abstract

Infection and Fever in Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Findings from the Study to Explore Early Development

Authors: Croen LA; Zerbo O; Ames JL; et al.

Autism Res. 2019 10;12(10):1551-1561. Epub 2019-07-17.

PubMed abstract

The Seveso accident: A look at 40 years of health research and beyond.

Authors: Eskenazi, Brenda B; Warner, Marcella M; Brambilla, Paolo P; Signorini, Stefano S; Ames, Jennifer J; Mocarelli, Paolo P

Environment international. 2018 Sep 01;121(Pt 1):71-84. Epub 2018-09-01.

PubMed abstract

AHR gene-dioxin interactions and birthweight in the Seveso Second Generation Health Study.

Authors: Ames, Jennifer J; Warner, Marcella M; Mocarelli, Paolo P; Brambilla, Paolo P; Signorini, Stefano S; Siracusa, Claudia C; Huen, Karen K; Holland, Nina N; Eskenazi, Brenda B

International journal of epidemiology. 2018 Aug 14;162(Pt 1):55-62. Epub 2018-08-14.

PubMed abstract

Neurocognitive and physical functioning in the Seveso Women’s Health Study.

Authors: Ames, Jennifer J; Warner, Marcella M; Brambilla, Paolo P; Mocarelli, Paolo P; Satariano, William A WA; Eskenazi, Brenda B

Environmental research. 2018 Apr 01;162(Pt 1):55-62. Epub 2017-12-26.

PubMed abstract

Building the new schoolhouse: the Massachusetts school building authority.

Authors: Ames, Jennifer J; Levenstein, Charles C

New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS. 2013 Jan 01;23(2):369-87. Epub 2016-03-12.

PubMed abstract

Sewer Gas: An Indoor Air Source of PCE to Consider During Vapor Intrusion Investigations.

Authors: Pennell, Kelly G KG; Scammell, Madeleine Kangsen MK; McClean, Michael D MD; Ames, Jennifer J; Weldon, Brittany B; Friguglietti, Leigh L; Suuberg, Eric M EM; Shen, Rui R; Indeglia, Paul A PA; Heiger-Bernays, Wendy J WJ

Ground water monitoring & remediation. 2013 Jun 15;33(3):119-126. Epub 2016-03-12.

PubMed abstract

Field data and numerical modeling: A multiple lines of evidence approach for assessing vapor intrusion exposure risks.

Authors: Pennell, Kelly G KG; Scammell, Madeleine K MK; McClean, Michael D MD; Suuberg, Eric M EM; Moradi, Ali A; Roghani, Mohammadyousef M; Ames, Jennifer J; Friguglietti, Leigh L; Indeglia, Paul A PA; Shen, Rui R; Yao, Yijun Y; Heiger-Bernays, Wendy J WJ

The Science of the total environment. 2016 Jun 15;556():291-301. Epub 2016-03-12.

PubMed abstract

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