The Population Sciences Program of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center seeks to reduce cancer risk, incidence, morbidity and mortality by conducting innovative, high-impact research on cancer etiology, prevention, early detection and survivorship.

Studies include research on lifestyle modifications and medical interventions, and improving the experiences and outcomes of people with cancer during and after treatment. Work in the program combines large observational studies and clinical trials with innovative molecular technologies and statistical analyses to explore important questions about cancer risk and outcomes that ultimately benefit patients.

Through collaborations with Mayo Clinic clinicians, community leaders and researchers throughout the United States and internationally, the Population Sciences Program seeks to understand why cancer develops, how to best prevent cancer, and how to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for patients over the short and long terms.

To achieve these goals, the program conducts studies of healthy people, patients with specific cancer risk factors or cancer precursors, people at all stages of cancer management from diagnosis through therapy and post-treatment follow-up, and their caregivers.

Faculty members of the Population Sciences Program are crucial in bringing benchtop discoveries into the clinic and translating epidemiological research into medical care and public health measures. As part of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, the program leverages the strong research and leadership expertise throughout Mayo Clinic.

Research initiatives

The Population Sciences Program has three main research goals:

  • Identifying cancer risk factors and biomarkers
  • Developing novel approaches for primary and secondary prevention
  • Improving the experience of patients during treatment and post-treatment survivorship

The ultimate goals of research conducted within the Population Sciences Program are to advance knowledge about the causes of cancer, discover better ways to detect, prevent and treat cancer, and to improve survivorship and outcomes for patients. Our program has three main research aims to help achieve these goals.

Catchment area research

The Population Sciences Program also conducts research on cancers that particularly affect people living in the regions surrounding the Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. This research includes cancers with:

  • A high burden, specifically breast cancer and colorectal cancer
  • Increasing incidence, specifically pancreatic cancer and liver cancer
  • Higher burden than expected compared with the rest of the United States, specifically hematologic malignancies

Cancer disparities

Our investigators also address cancer disparities, with a focus on African Americans in Florida, Latinx and Native Americans in Arizona, and rural populations in the Upper Midwest. Specific grants and publications are highlighted within each of the program goals.