Secondary Faculty

Immaculata De Vivo

Professor in the Department of Epidemiology


Other Positions

Professor of Medicine

Medicine-Brigham and Women's Hospital

Harvard Medical School


My research focus is to understand mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to establish association with disease for future prevention. My research base is the Nurses’ Health Study, where 33,000 germline DNA samples are available for determining inherited genetic susceptibility to cancer and other chronic diseases. I have introduced modern high-throughput genotyping methods in order to build the capacity to handle larger numbers of samples per day, implemented standard molecular biological techniques, such as cloning, RT-PCR, Western blotting, and assays to assess transcriptional effects and more recently whole genome amplification technique that will provide sufficiently robust amplification of limiting samples of genomic DNA that can be used for a variety of applications and statistically inferring population haplotypes. Some of my current projects include studying polymorphisms in hormone-metabolizing genes in endometrial and breast cancer. Findings from these studies have led to domestic collaborations with human geneticists Dr. David Housman at MIT, Dr. Cynthia Morton at BWH, clinicians, Dr. Daniel Cramer at BWH, George Mutter at HMS; and two international collaborations, Dr. Hans Olov-Adami at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Dr. Georgia Chenevix-Trench at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

Following my findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2002, that a variation in the promoter region of the human progesterone receptor (hPR) gene increases the risk of endometrial cancer, subsequent studies in my laboratory have found this same association with other types of hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. These risks are often modified by environmental factors such as obesity.

I am the primary instructor for Epi249a, “Molecular Biology for Epidemiologists,” a graduate-level course (approx. 30 students) that teaches the fundamental concepts of molecular biology. I assist in the direction of the Molecular Epidemiology laboratory at the Harvard School of Public Health (I supervise a laboratory manager and 3 research assistants) and direct my molecular biology laboratory housed in the ERBC at 221 Longwood Ave (research assistant, doctoral student and a masters student). I mentor 12 students (masters, doctoral and postdoctoral) and fellows on their research projects at Channing Laboratory and at the Harvard School of Public Health.

National Cancer Institute Research Fellowship1991-1993
Columbia University

Scholarship Award for Excellence in Academic Work
Columbia University School of Public Health

Award for Academic Excellence
Columbia University

Stanford Immunology Department Fellowship Competititve Award 1995-1997
Stanford University

American Cancer Society Faculty Award2000-2002
American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award2002-2008
American Cancer Society

Recognized as one of the top nine U.S. female scientists in cancer research2006-2007
Pink Magazine

Award for Excellence in Teaching2006-2007
Harvard School of Public Health


Genetic insights into biological mechanisms governing human ovarian ageing.

Ruth KS, Day FR, Hussain J, Martínez-Marchal A, Aiken CE, Azad A, Thompson DJ, Knoblochova L, Abe H, Tarry-Adkins JL, Gonzalez JM, Fontanillas P, Claringbould A, Bakker OB, Sulem P, Walters RG, Terao C, Turon S, Horikoshi M, Lin K, Onland-Moret NC, Sankar A, Hertz EPT, Timshel PN, Shukla V, Borup R, Olsen KW, Aguilera P, Ferrer-Roda M, Huang Y, Stankovic S, Timmers PRHJ, Ahearn TU, Alizadeh BZ, Naderi E, Andrulis IL, Arnold AM, Aronson KJ, Augustinsson A, Bandinelli S, Barbieri CM, Beaumont RN, Becher H, Beckmann MW, Benonisdottir S, Bergmann S, Bochud M, Boerwinkle E, Bojesen SE, Bolla MK, Boomsma DI, Bowker N, Brody JA, Broer L, Buring JE, Campbell A, Campbell H, Castelao JE, Catamo E, Chanock SJ, Chenevix-Trench G, Ciullo M, Corre T, Couch FJ, Cox A, Crisponi L, Cross SS, Cucca F, Czene K, Smith GD, de Geus EJCN, de Mutsert R, De Vivo I, Demerath EW, Dennis J, Dunning AM, Dwek M, Eriksson M, Esko T, Fasching PA, Faul JD, Ferrucci L, Franceschini N, Frayling TM, Gago-Dominguez M, Mezzavilla M, García-Closas M, Gieger C, Giles GG, Grallert H, Gudbjartsson DF, Gudnason V, Guénel P, Haiman CA, Håkansson N, Hall P, Hayward C, He C, He W, Heiss G, Høffding MK, Hopper JL, Hottenga JJ, Hu F, Hunter D, Ikram MA, Jackson RD, Joaquim MDR, John EM, Joshi PK, Karasik D, Kardia SLR, Kartsonaki C, Karlsson R, Kitahara CM, Kolcic I, Kooperberg C, Kraft P, Kurian AW, Kutalik Z, La Bianca M, LaChance G, Langenberg C, Launer LJ, Laven JSE, Lawlor DA, Le Marchand L, Li J, Lindblom A, Lindstrom S, Lindstrom T, Linet M, Liu Y, Liu S, Luan J, Mägi R, Magnusson PKE, Mangino M, Mannermaa A, Marco B, Marten J, Martin NG, Mbarek H, McKnight B, Medland SE, Meisinger C, Meitinger T, Menni C, Metspalu A, Milani L, Milne RL, Montgomery GW, Mook-Kanamori DO, Mulas A, Mulligan AM, Murray A, Nalls MA, Newman A, Noordam R, Nutile T, Nyholt DR, Olshan AF, Olsson H, Painter JN, Patel AV, Pedersen NL, Perjakova N, Peters A, Peters U, Pharoah PDP, Polasek O, Porcu E, Psaty BM, Rahman I, Rennert G, Rennert HS, Ridker PM, Ring SM, Robino A, Rose LM, Rosendaal FR, Rossouw J, Rudan I, Rueedi R, Ruggiero D, Sala CF, Saloustros E, Sandler DP, Sanna S, Sawyer EJ, Sarnowski C, Schlessinger D, Schmidt MK, Schoemaker MJ, Schraut KE, Scott C, Shekari S, Shrikhande A, Smith AV, Smith BH, Smith JA, Sorice R, Southey MC, Spector TD, Spinelli JJ, Stampfer M, Stöckl D, van Meurs JBJ, Strauch K, Styrkarsdottir U, Swerdlow AJ, Tanaka T, Teras LR, Teumer A, Þorsteinsdottir U, Timpson NJ, Toniolo D, Traglia M, Troester MA, Truong T, Tyrrell J, Uitterlinden AG, Ulivi S, Vachon CM, Vitart V, Völker U, Vollenweider P, Völzke H, Wang Q, Wareham NJ, Weinberg CR, Weir DR, Wilcox AN, van Dijk KW, Willemsen G, Wilson JF, Wolffenbuttel BHR, Wolk A, Wood AR, Zhao W, Zygmunt M, Chen Z, Li L, Franke L, Burgess S, Deelen P, Pers TH, Grøndahl ML, Andersen CY, Pujol A, Lopez-Contreras AJ, Daniel JA, Stefansson K, Chang-Claude J, van der Schouw YT, Lunetta KL, Chasman DI, Easton DF, Visser JA, Ozanne SE, Namekawa SH, Solc P, Murabito JM, Ong KK, Hoffmann ER, Murray A, Roig I, Perry JRB.

Nature. 2021 08. 596(7872):393-397. PMID: 34349265


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