Rebecca Prevots, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit, Lab of Clinical Immunology & Microbiology


5601 Fishers Lane
Room 7D10
Rockville, MD 20852


Research Topics

The Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit leads population-based and clinical epidemiologic research on mycobacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic conditions. The unit leverages a broad array of epidemiological methods:

  • Disease burden studies using national morbidity and mortality datasets (hospital discharge datasets, Medicare, Electronic Medical Records, registries) , as well as population-based data from integrated health care systems (HMOs)
  • Multivariable modeling, e.g. integrated analysis of observational cohorts with clinical and microbiologic data to identify relative host and pathogen contributions to infection and disease, including molecular and genetic markers of disease susceptibility and progression
  • Geospatial models to identify disease clustering and environmental predictors of disease
  • Machine learning
  • Household transmission studies

Using these methods, the Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit conducts pre- and post-licensure vaccine evaluation; defines optimal clinical endpoints for clinical trials of vaccines or new therapeutics; evaluates data underlying science-to-policy issues; designs clinical and population-based studies; develops and tests hypotheses regarding disease prevalence, trends, and risk factors; develops "electronic phenotypes" and clinical algorithms for selected infectious diseases.

In particular, the Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit has conducted studies of nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease in the United States and globally to establish the disease burden of this condition, as well as to identify risk factors for disease susceptibility and progression, including pathogen and host genetic factors. We have used population-based studies applying geospatial analytic methods to identify environmental determinants of NTM pulmonary disease, and studies in high risk areas of the US using these approaches are ongoing. Clinical-epidemiologic studies are examining racial\ethnic disparities in disease prevalence in high risk areas, and the relative contributions of clinical, environmental, and genetic factors to these patterns.

More recently, the Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit has been collaborating with the National Cancer Institute and the Costa Rican Agency for Biomedical Research (ACIB) to design and implement studies of SARS-CoV-2 household transmission. The Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit interacts with a wide range of independent research groups.


Dr. Prevots joined NIAID in 2003 to build an epidemiology research group and enhance epidemiologic capacity within NIAID. In 2007 she became head of the newly created Epidemiology and Population Studies Unit within the intramural program at NIAID and has led fundamental studies to establish the burden of nontuberculous mycobacterial disease in the United States, and to identify clinical and environmental risk factors for disease susceptibility and progression. Dr Prevots began her public health research career at the New York City Department of Health in 1985, working as a public health advisor in the AIDS surveillance and epidemiology unit. From there she went to the University of Michigan, where she earned her M.P.H. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology in 1991. Upon completing her Ph.D., she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Unit now leads and supports research on a range of other infectious diseases, including leading COVID epidemiology studies, as well as other infection conditions.

Selected Publications

  1. Sun K, Loria V, Aparicio A, Porras C, Vanegas JC, Zúñiga M, Morera M, Avila C, Abdelnour A, Gail MH, Pfeiffer R, Cohen JI, Burbelo PD, Abed MA, Viboud C, Hildesheim A, Herrero R, Prevots DR, RESPIRA Study Group. Behavioral factors and SARS-CoV-2 transmission heterogeneity within a household cohort in Costa Rica. Commun Med (Lond). 2023;3(1):102.
  2. Blakney RA, Ricotta EE, Frankland TB, Honda S, Zelazny A, Mayer-Barber KD, Dean SG, Follmann D, Olivier KN, Daida YG, Prevots DR. Incidence of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Pulmonary Infection, by Ethnic Group, Hawaii, USA, 2005-2019. Emerg Infect Dis. 2022;28(8):1543-1550.
  3. Lipner EM, Crooks JL, French J, Strong M, Nick JA, Prevots DR. Nontuberculous mycobacterial infection and environmental molybdenum in persons with cystic fibrosis: a case-control study in Colorado. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2022;32(2):289-294.
  4. Lipner EM, French JP, Falkinham JO 3rd, Crooks JL, Mercaldo RA, Henkle E, Prevots DR. Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Infection Risk and Trace Metals in Surface Water: A Population-based Ecologic Epidemiologic Study in Oregon. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2022;19(4):543-550.
  5. Blakney RA, Ricotta EE, Follmann D, Drew J, Carey KA, Glass LN, Robinson C, MacDonald S, McShane PJ, Olivier KN, Fennelly K, Prevots DR. The 6-minute walk test predicts mortality in a pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacteria-predominant bronchiectasis cohort. BMC Infect Dis. 2022;22(1):75.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, August 16, 2023