Cancer Population Sciences

The Cancer Population Sciences (CPS) Program brings together scientists whose research focuses on environmental and genetic cancer risk factor epidemiology, behavioral cancer risk reduction and health care delivery research. The program has two overarching research goals:

  • To establish the scientific basis for policies and interventions that limit the incidence of cancer across the life course.
  • To improve the delivery of cancer-related health care—from prevention to palliative care—especially among rural populations.

Our translational population scientists actively move basic research into clinical and population settings. Clinician scientists study risk factors and behaviors, along with screening and care delivery in patient populations. Many of our researchers focus on cancer risks for vulnerable populations: children, persons with severe mental illness and rural patients who are geographically isolated because of poverty and high travel times.

Program Co-Directors:
James D. Sargent, MD, Director
Tracy Onega, PhD, MS, MA, Co-Director;
Brock C. Christensen, PhD, Co-Director

Program themes

The CPS Program comprises a large and diverse group of researchers with a long history of fostering collaborative interdisciplinary research among basic- and physician-scientists. The research portfolio is broad, but areas of focus include prevention of cancer risk behaviors and exposures in children, colorectal cancer screening and prevention, clinical effectiveness in breast and lung cancer screening, and palliative care research.

The CPS Program has three major themes: Life Course Cancer Epidemiology, Translational Population Science and Health Care Delivery Science.

  • Life Course Cancer Epidemiology investigators have research programs that focus on identifying processes by which cancer precursors—both exposures and behaviors—affect cancer risk. Children are a vulnerable population, and reducing early life exposure to cancer-causing substances, such as arsenic, and cancer risk behaviors, such as smoking, will reduce avoidable cancers.
  • Translational Population Science members use multifaceted data sets to enhance our understanding of the disease process and capitalize on data from the catchment population in reverse translation studies.
  • Health Care Delivery Science members address the organization and delivery of care through comparative effectiveness research targeted at understanding “what works” across the continuum, from cancer prevention and screening, to diagnosis and treatment, along with policy evaluation and implementation.