Research Interests

Epidemiology of Skin Cancer
1. Epidemiological risk factors
2. Genetic susceptibility
3. Biomarkers
4. Tissue markers

1. Epidemiological risk factors

We are interested in the epidemiology of skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and multiple non-melanoma skin cancer (MSCP). We prospectively collected information on risk factors using similar wording in Harvard cohorts (Nursesí Health Study I, II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study). These questions include number of melanocytic nevi on limbs larger than 3 mm in diameter; natural hair color at age 20; history of painful sunburn that blistered; childhood or adolescent tendency to tan after repeated sun exposure; childhood or adolescent tendency to burn after two or more hours of sun exposure; first-degree family history of melanoma (parents and siblings); and sunscreen use habits. Because data were collected before the blood collection, for all the cases selected in this study who developed skin cancer after the blood collection, there is no recall bias for these data, which were obtained prior to diagnosis. In recent years, we additionally collected information on lifetime sun exposure and tanning device usage at different age intervals. We are also interested in examining other potential risk factors for skin cancer, which were collected in the questionnaires.

2. Genetic susceptibility

We are examining candidate molecular pathways, including DNA repair, pigmentation, immunity, telomere maintenance, and microRNA biosynthesis. Beyond the candidate gene approach, we have been conducting a series of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify novel pigmentation loci and several other skin cancer-related loci.

 

 


 

3. Biomarkers

In collaboration with Dr. Immaculata De Vivo, we have examined the association between overall telomere length and skin cancer risk. We plan to expand this work in the near future.

4. Tissue markers

In collaboration with Dr. Abrar Qureshi, we are working on RNA profiling in melanoma tumor tissues.