Research

As a trained physician and epidemiologist with concentration in chronic disease epidemiology, one major research interest is to study the relationship between dietary and lifestyle factors and risk of cancers, particularly prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and colorectal adenoma (polyp). In the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study I and II cohorts, I have studied the relationship between numerous dietary factors such as calcium, nutrients related to one carbon metabolism (e.g., the B-vitamins folate, B6 and B12), nutrients with antioxidant activity (e.g. vitamins E, C, carotenoids) and other nutrients with anti-carcinogenic activity primarily found in fruits and vegetables (e.g. flavonoids) and risk of cancers and adenomas.

In order to gain more insight into the the complex biological mechanisms underlying the associations between intake of individual nutrients or food groups and cancers, my research activities also include projects that examine other measures related to diet such as specific dietary patterns (e.g. Western dietary pattern vs. prudent dietary pattern), plasma biomarkers (e.g. biomarkers related to energy balance, the insulin axis or the insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis etc.), as well as interactions between dietary factors and genetic susceptibility and with regard to risk of cancers and adenoma.

Another focus of my research is to examine the role of HCA and other meat mutagens in carcinogenesis, I am collaborating with Dr.Rashmi Sinha from the National Cancer Institute and we developed new databases on meat mutagen intake specifically for the Nurses’ Health Study I (NHS I) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) cohorts, which are accessible online at http://dceg.cancer.gov/neb/tools/charred/hpfs/ and http://dceg.cancer.gov/neb/tools/charred/nhs/.

A major focus of my current research is to examine the relation between exposures during early stages of a life cycle, including childhood and adolescence and risks of colorectal adenoma and cancers later in life.

As a member of the molecular pathology epidemiology research group led by Drs. Shuji Ogino and Charles Fuchs at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, I am currently leading or collaborating on studies that assess how diet and lifestyle are linked to molecular features in colorectal neoplasia.