Research in the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program focuses on gaining a better understanding of the causes and risk factors behind cancer development. Results of these scientific findings are translated into better cancer treatment, including therapies with reduced toxicity and improvements in survival and quality of life.

Investigators in the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program conduct research in several 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 information helps researchers better understand how cancer arises and find new ways to identify people at increased risk and helps 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 collaborates with numerous Mayo Clinic faculty researchers on defined cancer research focus areas in cancer risk and outcomes and in statistical and informatics methods and applications.

Cancer risk and outcomes research

Faculty members collaborating on research about cancer risk and outcomes include:

Statistical and informatics methods and applications research

Faculty members collaborating on research about statistics and informatics methods and applications include: