The focus of my research is to enhance ovarian cancer prevention, using an integrative approach involving collaborations with biostatisticians, pathologists, and oncologists; this constitutes a powerful method for improving understanding of ovarian carcinogenesis. I lead the ovarian cancer research efforts in the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS/NHSII). Additionally, I co-lead a new international, NCI-sponsored research effort, the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium (OC3).
My work in ovarian cancer falls into three primary areas: (a) identifying new risk factors, (b) evaluating disease heterogeneity, and (c) elucidating early carcinogenic changes. Most known risk factors for ovarian cancer are not easily modifiable; however, this cancer’s poor prognosis makes it important to identify methods for prevention. My interests in this area include diet (flavonoids, acrylamide) and novel risk factors, such as beta-blocker medications, psychosocial stress, and inflammation. Further, considering all ovarian tumors as a single disease might cause us to miss important associations. Thus accounting for the heterogeneity of ovarian cancer (e.g., by histology, time to death, etc.) is critical to identify new risk factors and elucidate the etiologic pathways.
A common thread in my research is a strong interest in optimal integration of biologic markers into epidemiologic studies through my role as Director of the BWH/Harvard Cohorts Biorepository. This core maintains the scientific integrity of and uses nearly three million biospecimens from nearly 200,000 individuals across 5 large cohort studies.
My primary responsibilities include assisting investigators with the scientific aspects of incorporating biomarkers into their studies, managing laboratory and data management personnel, overseeing new sample collections, and investigating new technologies.