Lorelei Mucci

Lorelei Mucci

Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Department of Epidemiology

Research

My major research focuses on the epidemiology of prostate cancer risk and progression within cohorts of men from the United States and Scandinavia, with an emphasis on cancer biomarker studies, including circulating markers, inherited genetic alleles, as well as tumor biomarkers.

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Pathoepidemiology of prostate cancer

I co-lead the Transdisciplinary Prostate Cancer Partnership, a multidisciplinary international effort that integrates pathology data and tumor biomarkers at the RNA, DNA and protein level into our epidemiological studies. The overarching objective of this work is to identify molecular signatures of lethal prostate cancer and response to therapy, to identify new subtypes of cancer, and to provide insight into the biology of prostate cancer risk factors and progression.  The projects leverage a tumor biorepository of 3,000 men with prostate cancer from the Physicians Health Study (PHS), Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), and a Swedish Watchful Waiting Cohort, and is expanding to prostate cancer cohorts in Ireland, the UK, and Italy.  The US and Swedish projects are undertaken in concert with the DF/HCC Prostate Cancer SPORE, of which I am an active participant and from which I have received multiple research awards.

Nordic Twin Study of Cancer (NorTwinCan)

I am co-PI, with Professor Adami, of a large-scale twin study of cancer among 300,000 twins from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Within this unique resource, we aim to estimate the heritability in risk of various cancers, as well as to examine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors in cancer survival.  Future work in the twin setting will include a tumor tissue collection, in order to examine the heritability of somatic alterations in tumors.

Steps for Prostate Cancer Health and Survival (Spartacus)

The main goal of treating men with high-risk prostate cancer is to improve cancer survival.  At the same time, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases represent half of causes of death among men with locally advanced tumors, while men with prostate cancer experience impairments in physical and mental quality of life, both from the cancer as well as from therapy.  Considering the patient holistically, the identification of lifestyle interventions that could improve survival, enhance the efficacy of therapeutic interventions, as well as improve overall health and quality of life would provide maximum benefit to men.  Physical activity post-diagnosis may represent such an intervention.  We recently completed a pilot study of a group walking intervention, whereby men were randomized to either usual care or Spartacus, a walking intervention of weekly group walks and were encouraged to maintain 10,000 steps per day on other days.  We are now planning a larger scale trial in Sweden and Iceland. Our overarching premise is that 1-) a cancer diagnosis represents a teachable moment when men are amenable to lifestyle change, 2-) walking represents a low cost physical activity sustainable throughout life, and 3-) a group environment provides men with an opportunity to discuss issues related to their cancer.

Prostate cancer in Iceland

I am involved in a broad range of research projects on prostate cancer within The Reykjavik Study, a population-based cohort of men from Iceland.  These projects include the role of early life diet on prostate cancer risk, as well as the sleep-melatonin hypothesis in prostate cancer. The Department of Epidemiology (HSPH) and the University of Iceland share a memorandum of understanding to facilitate research and mentoring exchanges, and I am a Visiting Professor at the University of Iceland.

Education

ScD, 2003, Harvard School of Public Health
MPH, 1998, Boston University School of Public Health

Other Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Channing Laboratory (Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital)
  • Director, Cancer Epidemiology (Area of Interest), Department of Epidemiology, HSPH
  • Co-Leader, Cancer Epi Program at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC)
  • Visiting Professor of Public Health, University of Iceland