Rochester, Minnesota




Janet E. Olson, Ph.D., studies the causes of breast cancer in women. The long-term goal of her research is to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings of breast cancer etiology and survival.

Dr. Olson and colleagues are developing two breast cancer resources to increase the understanding of breast cancer. These include the Biospecimen Resource for Breast Disease and the Mayo Clinic Breast Disease Survivors Study. Data from these resources have contributed to numerous publications concerning the genetic causes of breast cancer.

Dr. Olson is also heavily involved in the development of the Mayo Clinic Biobank. This institutional research resource has contributed to numerous research projects in a wide array of research areas.

Focus areas

What are the underlying genetic causes of breast cancer? Dr. Olson is working to better understand how genetic variation contributes to breast cancer. For many years, it has been understood that BRCA1 and BRCA2 contribute to the etiology of breast cancer.

Now, through collaborations with colleagues throughout the world, Dr. Olson and her colleagues are beginning to understand the influence of many other common genetic variants that together contribute to the causes of breast cancer.

Significance to patient care

Through understanding the genetic causes of breast cancer, Dr. Olson hopes to improve the ability to predict which women are at increased risk of breast cancer. This would allow clinicians to target that group for more intense screening and preventive measures. Through these activities, the disease could be caught earlier (at a more treatable stage) or even prevented altogether.

Professional highlights

  • Recipient, Pilot Project Award, Mayo Clinic Office of Health Disparities Research, 2019

Clinical Studies

See my clinical studies


See my publications


Administrative Appointment

  1. Senior Associate Consultant II-Research, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences Research

Academic Rank

  1. Associate Professor of Epidemiology


  1. PhD - Epidemiology, Genetics minor University of Minnesota
  2. MPH - Epidemiology School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  3. BA - Biology/Psychology College of St. Benedict

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