Rochester, Minnesota




The research focuses of Janet E. Olson, Ph.D., lie in two primary areas: biobanking and the molecular and genetic epidemiology of breast cancer. The long-term goals of her research are to use biobanks to support clinical genetics in the era of personalized medicine, and to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings of breast cancer etiology and survival.

Dr. Olson is an associate professor of epidemiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, the director and co-PI of the Mayo Clinic Biobank, and the PI of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Registry.

Focus areas

  • Biobanking infrastructure to support clinical research. This research program uses the Mayo Clinic Biobank, with over 50,000 participants, and other biobanks to study factors related to participation in biobanks and embedded studies, including ethical and social aspects of appropriate return of research results on a large scale.

    An example of this would be the study of pharmacogenomics in the Mayo Clinic Biobank. This study recently used pharmacogenetic (PGx) data on 11,000 subjects within the Mayo Clinic Biobank as part of the Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Time — Using Genomic Data to Individualize Treatment (RIGHT) trial, and the researchers are now conducting studies to assess the impact of PGx phenotypes on risk of immediate and long-term problems.

  • Identification of 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 the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes 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

Dr. Olson's PGx research will directly translate to practice changes and highlight the importance and implementation of PGx in drug (particularly opioid) prescriptions.

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


Administrative Appointment

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

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

Clinical Studies

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