Aug 27

What Have We Learned from Epidemiology Cohorts and Where Should We Go Next?

Trends in 21st Century Epidemiology: From Scientific Discoveries to Population Health Impact on December 12-13, 2012


The Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) has initiated a strategic planning effort to develop scientific priorities for cancer epidemiology research in the next decade in the midst of a period of great scientific opportunity but also of significant resource constraints. EGRP would like to engage the research community and other stakeholders in a planning effort that will include a workshop in December 2012 to help shape cancer epidemiology research.

EGRP Invites Your Feedback

To facilitate this process, we invite the research community to join in an ongoing Web-based conversation to develop priorities and influence the next generation of high-impact studies.

People Standing over World Map This week, we address the evolution of epidemiologic cohorts in the study of cancer and other diseases. Research involving epidemiology cohorts falls primarily within two categories: 

  • Large observational studies consisting groups of people with a set of characteristics or exposures being followed systematically and prospectively for the incidence of new cancers, and cancer mortality.
  • Large cohorts of cancer survivors assembled for observational studies designed to study a variety of cancer-related outcomes, including responses to therapies, cancer recurrence, treatment-related second cancers, and additional short- and long-term health outcomes occurring after diagnosis.

Throughout the last two decades, EGRP-supported epidemiology cohort-based studies have helped to better understand the complex etiology of cancer and have provided fundamental insights into key environmental, lifestyle, and genetic determinants of this disease. Findings from cancer epidemiology cohorts are critical for many areas of trans-disciplinary and translational research.

The adoption of new methods and technologies in cohort studies has the potential to improve recruitment, exposure measurements, and lifestyle factors; advance biobanking and molecular characterization of study participants; and develop disease prediction and prognostic models. In addition, collaboration among existing cohorts, as consortia, will allow for increased power to detect complex interactions and to study rarer outcomes and special and underserved populations.  These cohort studies can yield population-based discoveries that help basic scientists more fully understand biologic mechanisms and allow clinicians to make precision medicine a reality.

We would like to get your feedback on the following fundamental questions: 

  • What developments are needed to make epidemiologic cohorts a cornerstone of the discovery to practice continuum—bridging the transition from etiology to outcomes to policy and practice?
  • How should NCI and NIH facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration to integrate these developments into the research portfolio? 

Please use the comment section below to share your perspectives. 

We encourage you to be as specific as possible. You can use or be inspired by the NCI Provocative Questions exercise. Your comments will be used to shape the workshop discussion in December.

Comments are also still welcome in response to first two questions of the strategic planning series:


 EGRP’s Workshop Science Advisory Group


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