Rochester, Minnesota




The research interests and expertise of Gloria M. Petersen, Ph.D., are in the application of genetic epidemiology to cancer etiology. Her work includes genetic linkage analysis of cancer families, case-control studies for gene discovery, and genetic and environmental association studies.

Dr. Petersen has also studied the impact of disclosure of genetic research findings to study participants. Her disease research focus is pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers.

Focus areas

  • Early detection of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Petersen coordinates a large multi-investigator collaboration to identify biomarkers of early pancreatic cancer. Using the large prospective patient registry developed at Mayo Clinic over 15 years, Dr. Petersen and her team can now construct well-defined and extremely informative sets of samples for laboratories to validate test markers as a step toward being useful in the clinical setting.
  • Genetic and nongenetic risk factors of pancreatic cancer. Using cases and controls, Dr. Petersen and her colleagues examine a variety of risk factors, including genetic markers, smoking, diet, environmental exposures and comorbid conditions to better understand why individuals have increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Petersen is also conducting a study to understand what modifies the expression of different cancers that can result from the identical gene mutation for pancreatic cancer within families.
  • Pancreatic Cancer Genetic Epidemiology (PACGENE) Consortium. This long-term study recruits high-risk familial pancreatic cancer kindreds and genotypes them to localize the chromosomal regions that harbor susceptibility loci and identify the genes themselves by using next-generation sequencing. Dr. Petersen and her colleagues have developed a resource of more than 3,190 families in this seven-center consortium.
  • Bioethical issues. Dr. Petersen examines the bioethical issues involved in informing members of pancreatic cancer families of incidental genetic research findings.

Significance to patient care

Dr. Petersen's goal is to translate gene discoveries into clinical application, with respect to improving risk assessment through modeling and studying the impact of genetic testing.

Professional highlights

  • Member, Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee, National Cancer Institute, 2015-2019
  • Member, Board of Scientific Counselors, National Human Genome Research Institute, 2013-2018
  • Recipient, Visiting Scholar Award, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, 2015
  • Elected chair, Molecular Epidemiology Working Group, American Association for Cancer Research, 2010


See my publications


Primary Appointment

  1. Consultant, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences Research

Joint Appointment

  1. Consultant, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine
  2. Consultant, Department of Medical Genetics

Academic Rank

  1. Professor of Epidemiology


  1. PhD - Physical Anthropology. Dissertation: Electromorph Unimodality of Serum Transferrin Variation in Cercopithecines University of California, Los Angeles
  2. MA - Physical Anthropology University of Oregon
  3. BA - Physical Anthropology University of California, Santa Barbara

Mayo Clinic Footer