Population Sciences
 
Researchers in the Department of Population Sciences are working to:
  • Better understand the causes of cancer, including hereditary (genetic) and environmental factors that may influence a person’s risk of developing cancer
  • Determine the health problems (after-effects) that can result from both cancer and its treatment
  • Identify groups of people who are at high risk for developing cancer and after-effects of cancer treatment, and find ways to best provide services to these people
  • Discover the most effective ways to prevent cancer, and to prevent the after-effects related to cancer and its treatment
 
The mission of the department, led by  Smita Bhatia , M.D., Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences, is to make scientific progress in understanding what causes cancer, how to prevent people from getting cancer, the health problems that can occur as a result of being treated for cancer, ways to reduce the burden of cancer and its after-effects for all people, and to improve the overall quality of life of cancer survivors.
 
This mission will be accomplished by bringing together scientists and clinicians with a variety of backgrounds and skills to create programs to conduct top-notch research and provide expert clinical care and education to address the following goals:
  • Identify factors that may influence whether or not a person will develop cancer,   and determine the best ways to determine a person’s risk for developing cancer, to reduce that risk, and to detect cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most easily treated.
  • Describe the health and quality of life of cancer survivors
  • Reduce the burden of cancer on patients and their families, and improve their quality of life, beginning at the time of diagnosis and treatment, through survivorship and end-of-life
  • Understand what causes some groups of people to disproportionally suffer from cancer and its after-effects, and develop ways to decrease the burden of cancer in these groups of people
  • Develop educational programs to make the results of the department’s research readily available to health care professionals and to the public 
 
The Department of Population Sciences team brings together experts from a variety of fields, and has four main working groups (divisions):

The goal of the Division of Cancer Etiology is to understand the causes of cancer. By understanding the causes of cancer, solutions can be developed to help prevent cancer, especially in people who are at highest risk. Scientists in the Division of Cancer Etiology have already made important discoveries about factors that may influence a person’s risk of developing cancer.

The Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics includes clinical services, research, and educational programs focusing on people who are at increased risk for developing cancer because of family history or personal risk factors.

OUTCOMES RESEARCH

The goal of the Division of Outcomes Research is to better understand the after-effects (physical, emotional, and social) of cancer and its treatment. These after-effects may include things such as fatigue, worry, sadness, problems with the heart and lungs, learning difficulties, problems with memory, and second cancers. Gaining a better understanding of these after-effects will help to identify people who are at high risk for having these types complications after cancer treatment, and to find ways to reduce that risk.
 
Members of the division have already done important  work in identifying the health burdens that childhood-cancer survivors can face as they age, and they are exploring how best to protect all cancer survivors from after-effects of cancer and its treatment. Researchers in the division are also looking into what causes some groups of people to disproportionally suffer from cancer and its after-effects, and developing ways to decrease the burden of cancer in these groups of people.
 
An important part of the Division of Outcomes Research is the  Center for Cancer Survivorship , a clinical long-term follow-up program designed to create a bridge between cancer treatment and community medical care.

 
NURSING RESEARCH AND EDUCATION  

The Division of Nursing Research and Education is well recognized on a national level for its research and education focused on nursing care for patients with cancer, which has helped to increase the quality of care provided to cancer patients across the United States. The goals of the program are to improve quality of life and symptom management for patients with cancer, and to educate professional and family caregivers about how best to assist cancer patients.