Cancer Epidemiology

The Cancer Epidemiology (CE) Program contributes to reducing cases of cancer through research to identify risk factors across the cancer continuum comprising etiology, progression, and outcome, and the translation of that knowledge into successful prevention and early detection interventions.


The complexity of the collection of diseases known as cancer requires a robust approach and consideration for a broad array of biomarkers. Integration of measures is therefore a consistent theme. The identification of markers that alter susceptibility to cancer allows for the development and testing of clinical cancer prevention strategies. To achieve its goal, the CE is organized into these aims:

Aim 1: Identify and test whether acquired biomarkers can predict cancer risk and outcome.
Knowledge of how acquired biomarkers influence cancer and its progression allows for better understanding of cancer mechanisms and paves the way for innovative strategies to prevent disease or reverse the natural history of the carcinogenic process. CE members continue to contribute heavily to the understanding of how infectious agents, specifically viruses like human papillomavirus (HPV), impact development and progression of a number of important cancers, including male genital, skin, and head and neck cancers. Program members are also investigating how epigenetic profiles can help distinguish between indolent and aggressive lesions of the anus and pancreas. 

Aim 2: Examine the association of inherited susceptibility biomarkers with cancer risk and outcome.
Members of the CE Program engage in impactful research focused on the discovery and validation of inherited genetic markers of cancer risk and disease progression and the interplay of the constitutional markers and the environment. As molecular epidemiologic studies have expanded from a focus on candidate gene polymorphisms to comprehensive biological pathways and genome-wide approaches and away from single studies to research consortia, CE members have been at the forefront of these research trends. CE members are actively involved—many in leadership roles within national or international cancer consortia—in efforts to understand the genetic susceptibility associated with development of brain, lung, melanoma, prostate, ovarian, and testicular germ cell cancers and important measures of progression and outcome in lung cancer, ovarian cancer and melanoma.

Aim 3: Discover and test the efficacy of promising approaches for the prevention and early detection of cancer.
An improved ability to identify high-risk individuals and populations creates the need to explore and develop strategies to prevent cancer or improve the ability to detect cancer early, allowing for better disease outcomes. Translational research projects led by CE members take many forms, including pharmaceutically sponsored trials of the enhanced HPV vaccine, trials of botanicals for chemoprevention of prostate cancer, and the development and application of methods for automated quantitation of breast density to more accurately determine risk of breast cancer.

Cancer Epidemiology Program Members
Program Leader:

Peter A. Kanetsky, PhD, MPH

Y. Ann Chen, PhD
Anna E. Coghill, PhD, MPH
Kathleen M. Egan, ScD
Brooke Fridley, PhD
Travis Gerke, ScD
Anna R. Giuliano, PhD
John J. Heine, PhD
Daniel Jeong, MD
Nancy Gillis (Johnson), PharmD, PhD
Peter A. Kanetsky, PhD, MPH
Nagi B. Kumar, PhD, RD, FADA
M. Catherine Lee, MD, FACS 
Alvaro NA Monteiro, PhD
Jong Y. Park, PhD
Lauren Peres , PhD, MPH
Jennifer Permuth, PhD, MS
Christine M. Pierce, PhD, MPH
Dana E. Rollison, PhD
Matthew B. Schabath, PhD
Michael Schell, PhD
Stephanie L. Schmit, PhD, MPH
Erin Siegel, PhD, MPH
Shelley Tworoger, PhD
Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD