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Susan M. Gapstur, PhD, MPH

Vice President, Epidemiology Research Program


Susan M. Gapstur, PhD, MPH is a cancer epidemiologist and vice president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, where she leads a team of 37 investigators and staff. She is the principal investigator of the Cancer Prevention Study II, and is responsible for providing strategic oversight and planning for all epidemiology research activities, and for program development and communications.

Gapstur’s research focuses on lifestyle, medical, hormonal determinants of cancer risk and prevention, with a particular emphasis on alcohol intake and its relationship with breast, and other cancers. As an expert in the field of alcohol and cancer epidemiology, Gapstur contributed to the International Agency for Research monograph on Cancer Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans: Volume 96 Alcohol Consumption and Ethyl Carbamate (2010) that concluded for the first time that alcoholic beverage consumption is a cause of breast and colorectal cancer. She also was invited to be the lead author of the chapter on Alcohol and Cancer in the 4th edition of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention (Schottenfeld and Fraumeni, eds), a premier reference text in cancer epidemiology. In addition, her research has contributed significantly to the scientific evidence on the role of abnormal glucose metabolism in cancer etiology (e.g., Journal of the American Medical Association, 2000). New areas of research include studies of circadian rhythm disruption related risk factors and cancer risk.

For over two decades, Gapstur has served on numerous standing and ad hoc review committee for the National Institutes of Health, and was recently invited to serve on an advisory panel for a workshop on Precision Medicine organized by Francis Collins, MD, PhD, the director of National Institutes of Health.. From 2014-2015 Gapstur was the chair of the Molecular Epidemiology Group of the American Association of Cancer Research, and is currently the chair-elect of the National Cancer Institute’s Cohort Consortium Steering Committee. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Graff Distinguished Alumni Award from her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

Prior to joining the American Cancer Society in 2009, Gapstur was on faculty in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL and was program leader and then associate center director for cancer prevention and control at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Gapstur has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, as well as numerous invited commentaries, editorials, book chapters, and reviews.

• National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arizona, Year(s)
• PhD, Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1993
• MS, Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1989