Researchers in the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program study cancer patterns, risk factors and genes that are linked to cancer.

Researchers in the program are studying genes and other biomarkers and environmental and lifestyle factors to help understand how these factors affect the risk of developing cancer. They're also studying how these factors influence patient outcomes once cancer has developed.

Results from these studies are used to identify new ways to prevent cancer, to identify people at high risk of developing cancer and to detect cancer earlier.

Study results are also used to enhance treatment for cancer patients — to provide more accurate prognosis, improve the efficacy of treatments, decrease the toxicity of therapies, identify new therapies, and improve long-term survival and quality of life.


Investigators in the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program are conducting research in these areas:

  • Studies of families to identify genes that cause familial and hereditary forms of cancer to help clinicians provide appropriate genetic counseling to patients.
  • Studies to identify how genes and environmental and lifestyle factors act alone and in combination to increase or decrease cancer risk.
  • Studies that explore the epidemiology of conditions that lead to cancer or conditions that are high-risk markers for cancer development. This helps researchers better understand how cancer arises, find new ways to identify people at increased risk and help prevent these conditions from leading to cancer.
  • Using molecular epidemiology to better define subtypes of cancer based on molecular characteristics of a tumor, and relating these differences back to genetic and environmental risk factors.
  • Studies that help researchers understand the role of genetic variation in cancer prognosis. Study results are used to better individualize cancer treatment — increasing treatment efficacy and decreasing toxicity — and to identify new treatment approaches.
  • Incorporating tumor biomarkers into studies to better understand their significance to underlying cancer biology and to determine how they might be used as targets for new drug therapies and as predictors of response to therapy.
  • Leveraging large patient cohorts to study predictors of medical outcomes related to cancer survivorship, such as second cancers, cardiovascular disease, bone health and cognitive function; health-related quality of life, sexual health, physical and psychosocial functioning; and health behaviors over the long term.


The Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program has two co-leaders: