Rochester, Minnesota




The main research focus of James R. Cerhan, M.D., Ph.D., is using epidemiologic approaches to study the causes and outcomes of cancer in human populations.

Dr. Cerhan is a professor of epidemiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Ralph S. and Beverly Caulkins Professor of Cancer Research, and chair of the Department of Health Sciences Research. He is also co-leader of the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, co-director of the Biorepositories Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine and associate director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Registry.

Focus areas

  • Identifying the causes of lymphoma. This research program identifies the environmental, lifestyle, genetic and biological factors that are responsible for causing lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system that increased dramatically during the second half of the 20th century. Dr. Cerhan uses large epidemiologic studies (both cohort and case-control studies) combined with state-of-the-art technologies to determine these factors and understand their underlying mechanisms.
  • Improving the outcomes of patients with lymphoma. Dr. Cerhan's second major research aspect identifies lifestyle, genetic, tumor and treatment factors that lead to improved survival, overall health and quality of life of lymphoma patients. In collaboration with clinicians, pathologists, immunologists, behavioral scientists, statisticians, bioinformaticians and other disciplines, he follows a large cohort of lymphoma patients, addressing survivorship over the short and long term.
  • Building and sustaining infrastructure to facilitate human research. As principal investigator of the Mayo Clinic Biobank, Dr. Cerhan oversees the building of a biobank of 50,000 participants who donate biologic samples and clinical and risk factor data, which can be used in multiple research studies. At the Mayo Clinic Cancer Registry, he oversees the collection of systematic data on all newly diagnosed cancer patients, which is used for state and national reporting, quality improvement, and research to improve cancer care.

Significance to patient care

Identifying the causes of lymphoma and other cancers allows for new approaches to risk stratification and prevention. Examining the ways lymphoma patients are impacted over time leads to improved outcomes and survivorship. Furthermore, building and sustaining a robust infrastructure for human research lowers the cost to patients and families and speeds up translating discoveries, both now and in the future.

Professional highlights

  • Elected member, Scientific Council, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2019-2023
  • Co-editor, "Schottenfeld and Fraumeni Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention," Fourth Edition, 2017
  • Chair, Council for Extramural Grants, American Cancer Society, 2015-2017
  • Chair, Molecular Epidemiology Working Group, American Association for Cancer Research, 2012-2013
  • Chair and secretariat, National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium, 2011-2012
  • Chair, Coordinating Committee, International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph Consortium), 2011


See my publications

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