Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH
Deputy Director, Institute for Public Health; Chief, Division of Public Health Sciences and Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine
Dr. Colditz is an internationally recognized leader in cancer prevention. As an epidemiologist and public health expert, he has a longstanding interest in the preventable causes of chronic disease, particularly among women. He is also interested in strategies to speed translation of research findings to prevention strategies that work. Past research has focused on the health effects of smoking, weight and weight gain, physical activity, diet, and the adverse effects of medications such as postmenopausal hormone therapy, documenting that current use increases risk of breast cancer.
In addition to serving as the Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Health, Dr. Colditz is the Neiss-Gain Professor in the School of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Public Health Sciences in the Department of Surgery, Program Director of the Master of Population Health Sciences degree program, and the Associate Director of Prevention & Control at the Siteman Cancer Center. Dr. Colditz is the principal investigator for TREC@WUSTL, an NCI-funded transdisciplinary research center studying the associations between obesity and cancer causes, prevention and survival. He is also the principal investigator of the Siteman Cancer Center’s Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD), a group that uses community-based partnerships to impact disparities in cancer screening, treatment and survivorship in the region.
His additional current research includes the development of a Women’s Health Repository that will collect, store, and share data and tissue from 25,000 women and a smaller repository that will collect data and tissue for future research focused on premalignant breast disease. This related research in breast health builds on his extensive work focused on breast cancer etiology and prevention, including the evaluation of biomarkers and other causal factors in progression of DCIS to invasive breast cancer.
His additional research includes: assessing barriers and system delays in uninsured women accessing services at the Joanne Knight Breast Health Center and other safety net providers in the region; studying the communication of risks associated with chemoprevention; and collaborating with the Department of Radiology to implement clinical use of the Rosner & Colditz breast cancer risk assessment model for all women presenting at BHC for screening mammograms.
Dr. Colditz also works with the Division of Urologic Surgery on the epidemiology of chronic prostatitis/pelvic pain syndrome, genetic and nutritional markers for recurrence of prostate cancer, and studies of genetic and plasma markers for risk of myeloma in collaboration with the Division of Hematology-Oncology.
Dr. Colditz has devoted much effort to the application of scientific advances in cancer prevention to broader population programs working with the American Cancer Society and the Massachusetts Cancer Control Program. He also developed the website www.yourdiseaserisk.wustl.edu
to assess individual risk and communicate tailored prevention messages to the public. The site has continuing media coverage and has received numerous commendations for its standing among health-related web sites. He also leads a team writing the blog Cancer News in Context
In November 2011, Dr. Colditz was awarded the American Cancer Society’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his dedication to leading research that focuses on the prevention of chronic diseases and cancer. In October 2006, on the basis of professional achievement and his commitment to public health, he was elected to membership of the Institute of Medicine, an independent body that advises the U.S. government on many issues affecting public health. In 2004, he was awarded the American Cancer Society-Cissy Hornung Clinical Research Professorship. In addition to his many other leadership roles, Dr. Colditz served as editor-in-chief of the journal Cancer Causes and Control from 1998 to 2006.
What opportunities do you see for interdisciplinary collaboration on public health initiatives in the future?
“The rich research environment from biology, imaging and clinical applications at Washington University, complements a growing number of population science investigators to create an enormous opportunity to link research in implementation and dissemination to the clinical research programs and population applications of scientific discoveries to focus prevention strategies for many common conditions both locally, nationally, and in international settings. In this rich research setting we are well positioned to develop and apply new methods that arise from the transdisciplinary research that the Institute will foster.”